Warren Buffett is a household name because of his great wealth. But many of us forget that he amassed this wealth through different forms of private investing and hedge funds. He learned valuable lessons at a young age through investing in the stock market. As he matured he ventured out into various practices in private investing. For many, it seems that having lunch with this very wealthy man would be out of the question. However, each year Warren Buffett sponsors a luncheon that is a fund raiser for his favorite charity.
The GLIDE Foundation
Normally, eating lunch at a higher end steakhouse in Manhattan with nine people would run somewhere around $1000. But this year it cost on investor nearly $3.5 million. That was the final bid on this year’s charity auction in which the winner gets to enjoy lunch with Warren Buffett and the proceeds go to a charity based in San Francisco, the GLIDE Foundation. The charity provides meals, housing and funding for community based clinics. Over the last 13 years the auctions have raised more than $11 million for the group.
The charity auction is conducted online and the winner gets to take seven friends for lunch with Warren Buffett at the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse located in Manhattan. In 2011 a fund manager, Ted Weschler paid $2.63 million to share lunch with Warren Buffett. But after the lunch Weschler was hired by Buffett’s Berskshire Hathaway as an investment manager. He only beat out one other person in last year’s auction in which only 8 bids were offered by just 2 people. Weschler won both the 2010 and 2011 auctions which yielded almost $5.3 million for the charity.
In 2012, there were 10 bidders in all and over 106 bids were made during the 5 days the online auction was open. When it ended, the winner had bid $3,456,789 exactly. This amount will be given to Buffett’s favorite charity and the winner will enjoy lunch with Buffett. Smith & Wollensky also contribute a minimum of $10,000 to the charity to host the lunch.
The goal is not for Warren Buffett to find future employees through the luncheon; it is simply to raise money for his favored charity. While Buffett isn’t looking for new hires through the auction, Weschler did end up getting hired by Buffett last year to help in managing Berkshire’s investment portfolio. Most of the time, the winner of the auction just gets the opportunity to sit and converse with Warren Buffett, known throughout the world as a profitable investor and a leader in entrepreneurship.
Discussions with Warren Buffett
But talk over lunch is not always only about money with this multi-millionaire. Although the big draw for many bidders is Buffett’s amazing business sense and outstanding success in investing, the lunchtime conversation does not center around potential investments. Since Warren Buffett has made such a mark on philanthropy, many past winners have wanted to discuss giving. Since 2006, Buffett has continued to slowly give a portion of his fortune. He wants to eventually divide his Berkshire stock up between five charitable foundations. He intends for the largest portion to go to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have been trying to encourage extremely wealthy people to give away at least half of the fortunes they have amassed. Almost 80 of the United State’s wealthiest have joined in with this effort.
Auction winners have expressed that the time spent having lunch with the well respected Warren Buffett is well worth the price they have paid. The lunch usually spans several hours and Buffett answers questions as they are posed. Usually, according to Buffett, many of the questions are about non-business topics like family and philanthropy.