NEW YORK (Reuters) - A bidder has agreed to pay $2.63 million for a steak lunch with the billionaire investor Warren Buffett in a charity auction held on eBay Inc’s website.
The highest bid in the 11th annual auction topped the previous record $2.11 million paid in 2008 by Zhao Danyang, a Hong Kong investor. Wealth manager Salida Capital Corp of Toronto won with a $1.68 million bid in 2009.
The identity of the winning bidder could not immediately be determined after bidding closed Friday night.
EBay was not immediately available for comment. Berkshire Hathaway Inc, Buffett’s insurance and investment company, did not immediately return a request for comment.
The winner and up to seven friends will dine with the world’s third-richest person at the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in midtown Manhattan. Smith & Wollensky is also donating $10,000.
As in his increasingly frequent television appearances, Buffett will talk about pretty much anything apart from what he is buying and selling.
Proceeds benefit the Glide Foundation, a San Francisco non-profit organization offering meals, healthcare, child care, housing and job training for the poor and homeless. Glide is also known for lively Sunday morning services that include gospel music.
Buffett began auctioning the lunches in 2000 after his first wife Susan introduced him to Glide and its founder, the Rev. Cecil Williams.
In a Friday interview, Williams said the auction was critical to Glide because the economy has caused donations to fall 20 percent this year, while demand for Glide’s services was up 30 percent. Glide’s annual budget is about $17 million.
The auction began on Sunday night, and the top bid rose from $1.8 million in the last hour. Nine bidders made a total of 77 bids. Entering Friday, the highest bid had been $900,100, according to eBay.
“I’m jumping for joy. There’s no doubt about it,” Williams, 80, said after the high bid had topped $1.5 million. “Warren Buffett understands Glide and he supports Glide. I said to him a week-and-a-half ago, ‘You’re such a good person,’ and he laughed and said, “Well you know, I’m trying, I’m trying.’”
The 10 prior auctions had raised more than $5.9 million. The first three were live, with top bids ranging from $25,000 to $32,000, according to Glide.
Buffett, 79, built an estimated $47 billion fortune running Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire, which operates about 80 businesses and has tens of billions of dollars of investments.
In 2006, Buffett pledged most of his wealth to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and four family charities. Bill Gates, a Microsoft Corp co-founder, is a Berkshire director.
Susan Buffett died in 2004. Warren Buffett remarried two years later on his 76th birthday.
The following are winners of the Glide auction since bidding moved online:
2003 — David Einhorn, Greenlight Capital, $250,100
2004 — Jason Choo, $202,100
2005 — Anonymous, $351,100
2006 — Yongping Duan, $620,100
2007 — Mohnish Pabrai, Guy Spier, $650,100
2008 — Zhao Danyang, Pureheart China Growth Investment Fund, $2,110,100
2009 — Salida Capital Corp, $1,680,300
Reporting by Elinor Comlay and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Alex Richardson