Buffett lunch auction won by Canadian firm Salida

Wed Jul 8, 2009 3:57pm EDT
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By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Canadian wealth management firm has won last month's charity auction of a steak lunch with Warren Buffett, in which it agreed to pay $1,680,300 (C$1.97 million) to dine with the world's second-richest person.

Salida Capital Corp, a Toronto-based firm, was the top bidder in the five-day auction, which ended on June 26. The identity of the winner had previously been kept secret.

The auction benefited the Glide Foundation, a nonprofit in San Francisco's Tenderloin district that offers housing, job training, health and child care, and meals for the poor.

Glide has raised more than $5.92 million (C$6.93 million) from such auctions in each of the last 10 years, including a record $2,110,100 (C$2.47 million) in 2008. The auction was conducted on eBay Inc's website. Salida had not bid for the lunch before this year.

"It is something we have been thinking about doing for a while," said Courtenay Wolfe, Salida's chief executive, in an interview. "Warren's success has transcended decades and all types of market conditions, and his wisdom and experience is of great value to us, at such a sensitive time in history."

Buffett, who runs the insurance and investment company Berkshire Hathaway Inc, was out of the office and not immediately available for comment, spokeswoman Carrie Kizer said.

The winner and up to seven friends will dine with the world's second-richest person at the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in New York.

At least three of the last six winners came from outside the United States, including Hong Kong investor Zhao Danyang, who submitted the record bid in 2008. The identity of the 2005 winner has not been publicly revealed.   Continued...

<p>Billionaire financier and Berkshire Hathaway Chief Executive Warren Buffett attends the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska May 2, 2009. REUTERS/Carlos Barria</p>