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Charity lunch with Warren Buffett sells for $3.3 million

Krystal Hu
Warren Buffett eating lunch with John Gainor, then Dairy Queen’s CEO, in 2013 in Omaha, Nebraska. The charity lunch will be much fancier than this. (AP)

The annual charity auction to have lunch with billionaire Warren Buffett has ended, and the winning bid was $3,300,100.

The bidder, who paid about $620,000 more than last year’s winner on late Friday, has chosen to remain anonymous. He or she will dine with Buffett at Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in New York City on a mutually agreed date. The proceeds go to the Glide Foundation, a San Francisco-based charity providing meals, shelter and other services for homeless people.

Buffett was introduced to Glide by his first wife Susan and the effort has raised more than $26 million through 18 annual auctions. The amount of each auction has remained above the $1 million threshold since it moved to eBay (EBAY) in 2008.

Bidding for lunch with Buffett has been strong since the charity auction went to eBay.

This year’s price falls short of the record of $3,456,789 auction winners paid in 2012 and 2016, which remains the most expensive charity item ever sold on eBay.

For those wondering, the auction price, which varies year to year, doesn’t seem to have much of a correlation with the performance of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-ABRK-B). The lowest winning bid since the auction went to eBay was $1,000,100 in 2013 after Berkshire Hathaway delivered a 17.6% annual return.

Most people who had the lunch with the Oracle of Omaha say it’s a pretty conversational occasion. For some, it is well well worth the cost. Ted Weschler, after winning both the 2010 and 2011 auctions by paying more than $2.6 million each year, got hired by Buffett to be a portfolio manager at Berkshire Hathaway.

(Yahoo Finance/Krystal Hu)

The bidding activity also reflects Buffett’s growing popularity in China, where he is known as “god of stocks” and is printed on Coke cans. Back in 2006, Chinese businessman Duan Yongping won the bid and took his 26-year-old friend Huang Zheng to lunch. Now Duan’s smartphone empire sells better than Apple’s iPhone in China. Meanwhile, Huang’s shopping app Pinduoduo has reached a valuation of $15 billion.

But not all of Buffett’s lunch guests have found unfettered success. Zhu Ye, chairman of Beijing-based Zeus Entertainment, an online gaming firm, paid $2.35 million for the lunch opportunity in 2015 and said it was “absolutely worth it”. However, he has been investigated by the China Securities Regulatory Commission for alleged violations of securities laws since this May.

Krystal Hu is a technology and economy reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter

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