Warren Buffett charity lunch already fetching $1 million at auction

Mon Jun 1, 2015 3:10pm EDT
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By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - An online auction for the right to dine with billionaire investor Warren Buffett and raise money for a San Francisco charity has started strongly, with the top bid surpassing $1 million in less than a day.

Buffett has raised $17.8 million in 15 prior annual auctions for Glide, a charity in San Francisco's Tenderloin district that provides food, health care, rehabilitation and other services for the poor and homeless.

As of 2:30 p.m. EDT Monday, the top bid was $1,000,100 in the eBay auction, which ends at 10:30 p.m. EDT Friday.

That bid matches the seventh-highest amount ever paid, which occurred in 2013, and may go higher because bids often soar in the last hour. The auction began Sunday night, with a $25,000 minimum bid.

"We're very happy, very happy," the Rev. Cecil Williams, the co-founder of Glide, said in a phone interview. "We expect the bidding to take off, but $1 million coming this early is somewhat surprising."

This year's winner can bring up to seven friends to dine with Buffett at the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in Manhattan.

Some past winners chose to dine at a steakhouse in Omaha, Nebraska, where Buffett runs Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Last year's winner, Andy Chua of Singapore, bid $2,166,766. The record bid, in 2012, was $3,456,789, submitted anonymously.   Continued...

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett enjoys a Dairy Queen ice cream bar prior to the Berkshire annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, United States, in this file photo taken May 2, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/Files