Buffett lunch draws $700,100 bid as pace quickens

Wed Jun 9, 2010 4:23pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Someone has bid $700,100 to dine with billionaire investor Warren Buffett in an annual charity auction, putting the bidding far ahead of last year's level.

The auction on eBay Inc's website generated 40 bids as of 4 p.m. EDT, with the highest bid rising from $200,100 on Tuesday and $51,000 on Monday.

The names of bidders are being kept confidential by eBay, which began the auction on Sunday night. The auction ends on June 11 at 10:30 p.m. EDT.

Proceeds benefit the Glide Foundation, a San Francisco nonprofit that offers meals, healthcare, child care, housing and job training for the poor and homeless.

Buffett's 10 prior annual auctions for Glide have raised more than $5.9 million, including a record $2,110,100 in 2008 and $1,680,300 last year.

Bids typically soar in the last hour or two of the auctions. Last year, the top bid had reached just $456,789, with fewer than 12 hours remaining before the auction ended.

This year's winning bidder and up to seven others will eat a steak lunch with the 79-year-old Buffett on a date to be agreed at the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in New York.

Buffett built an estimated $47 billion fortune through his insurance and investment company Berkshire Hathaway Inc. In 2006, he pledged most of his wealth to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and four family charities.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Gary Hill)

<p>Warren E. Buffett,Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Berkshire Hathaway, testifies before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission during a public hearing in New York in this June 2, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton</p>