Lunch With Warren Buffett Won by Chinese Exec for $2.35 Million

Warren BuffettThe “Oracle of Omaha” continues to draw tremendous interest – and – money from people wanting some time and words of wisdom from him. The latest auction for a lunch with Warren Buffet, the financial guru viewed for decades as an oracle, was won for $2.35 million by Chinese exec, Zhu Ye, chairman of Beijing-based Dalian Zeus Entertainment Co., an online gaming development firm.

Advise from one the world’s best-known capitalism kings and the fourth wealthiest man on earth continues to draw large money for the charity event. The annual “Power Lunch with Warren Buffett” auction, now in its 16th year, has drawn over $1 million a year and as high as $3.5 million for the past eight years.

The Chinese exec who was the winning bidder of lunch with Warren Buffett at a mere $2.35 million can invite up to seven friends to join them for the meal at Smith & Wollensky, a steakhouse in New York City. The founder of Smith & Wollensky, Alan Stillman, has donated at least $10,000 each year to GLIDE for the privilege of hosting the Buffett luncheon. However, several winners preferred traveling to Omaha to dine with Buffett in his own backyard.

Buffett, now 84, hosts one charity lunch annually to support GLIDE Foundation GLIDE is a more than 50-year-old San Francisco nonprofit that works with the poor and homeless to break cycles of poverty, serve food, and provide health care and other services to those in need in the area.

The auctions began in 2000 after Buffett’s first wife Susan, who died in 2004, introduced him to organization. Winners of the first three auctions paid $25,000 each to have lunch with Buffett. Then, the “oracle” suggested they move onto eBay and the dollars raised in subsequent years climbed significantly. The 2014 top bid also came from an Asian businessman, Andy Chua from Singapore, who bid almost $2.2 million. Buffett’s commitment — and his lunches — has raised approximately $20 million for GLIDE.

Excited about the fact the auction has empowered so many area residents, Reverend Cecil Williams, who was GLIDE’s co-founder, noted that Warren Buffett’s participation has extended the charitable organization’s heritage of “unconditional love and acceptance. Offering this luncheon is different. It’s creative. It’s innovative. It’s a unique way to inspire others to see how they can give and connect with the humanity that is perhaps invisible to them.”

Co-founder Janice Mirikitani added that the bidders and Buffett are helping to bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots in San Francisco’s poorer areas, such as the Tenderloin district. Mirikitani noted, “Mr. Buffett inspires others who have the means to help bridge that divide – and every person who is involved is a pillar to that bridge.”

Warren Buffett has been widely considered to be the most successful investor of the 20th Century. Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett has long been a considerable philanthropist and has pledged to give away 99 percent of his fortune to charitable causes, like GLIDE.

“GLIDE helped me understand just how much a life can be transformed by unconditional love and some real material help,” Buffett noted on the charity’s Web site. Warren Buffett also assured contributors, including the Chinese Exec who won the auction by bidding $2.35 million. “Nobody who’s donated to GLIDE has ever felt shortchanged. They always get their money’s worth.”

By Dyanne Weiss

Sources:
Reuters: Lunch With Warren Buffett Auctioned For $2.35 Million
Bloomberg: China’s Dalian Zeus Bids $2.35 Million To Win Lunch With Buffett
Glide Blog: Change the World. Start With Lunch.

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