Auction for Warren Buffett charity lunch starts slow

Mon Jun 6, 2016 5:29pm EDT
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By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - The annual charity auction for a private lunch with billionaire investor Warren Buffett is underway.

The top bid to dine with the chairman of the conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N: Quote) was $200,100 at 12 p.m. EDT on Monday, but will likely surge by the time the auction on eBay (EBAY.O: Quote) ends on Friday night.

Winning bids have reached seven figures every year since 2008, with the record $3,456,789 offer submitted anonymously in 2012. Last year's winner paid $2,345,678.

Auction proceeds go to Glide, a charity in San Francisco's Tenderloin district that provides food, health care and other services to people who are homeless, poor or struggling with substance abuse. Buffett has raised about $20.2 million in 16 auctions for Glide.

"Mr. Buffett has been just one of the most important people in our work," Rev. Cecil Williams, 86, Glide's co-founder and a pastor at Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, told Reuters. "If people didn't respond to places like Glide, we would be in serious trouble in urban America."

Buffett, 85, is the world's third richest person, worth $66.8 billion, Forbes magazine said on Monday. He is donating virtually all of his wealth to charity.

The auction was created by Buffett's first wife, Susan, and continued after her 2004 death. It began on Sunday night, and will end at 10:30 p.m. EDT Friday.

The winner and up to seven friends can dine with Buffett at the Smith & Wollensky steak house in Manhattan.   Continued...

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett talks to reporters prior to the Berkshire annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska May 2, 2015.  REUTERS/Rick Wilking