Warren Buffett’s annual charity auction drew an offer of more than $355,000 as bidders vie for a chance to have lunch and a conversation with the billionaire investor.
The event kicked off yesterday with a starting price of $25,000, according to a page on EBay Inc.’s website. The top bid was $355,100 as of 3 p.m. in San Francisco. The event is scheduled to end at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
Buffett, 83, uses the event to raise cash for San Francisco’s Glide Foundation, drawing admirers and acolytes who want to spend time with the world’s third-richest man. Past winners include hedge-fund manager David Einhorn and Ted Weschler, who was hired by Buffett after making two record- setting bids.
“We’re looking for these fairly wealthy people to make the kind of donation that bought the lunch in recent years,” Buffett said in a video posted on EBay.
The auction, now in its 15th year, has raised $15.6 million for Glide, which provides services for the poor. It has an annual budget of about $17 million.
Buffett met with last year’s anonymous winner on April 23 at New York’s Smith & Wollensky steakhouse. The winner committed $1,000,100, the lowest since the $650,100 top bid in 2007.
“It will be our hope, of course, to have that expanded this year,” said the Rev. Cecil Williams, 84, who joined the Glide Memorial church in 1963.
Buffett’s first wife Susan, who died in 2004, introduced him to Williams and Glide. The chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Buffett has pledged almost all of his estimated $65 billion fortune to charity.
“There’s nobody I admire more than Cecil,” Buffett said in the video. “He has devoted his life to improving the lives of other people and he’s done it in an intelligent way and he’s done it over a very long period of time.”
–With assistance from Noah Buhayar in New York.