Warren Buffett, the chairman and CEO of holding company Berkshire Hathaway and highly regarded investment counselor, has been offering a charity auction “Power of One” lunch package for more than two decades. But the 91-year-old “Oracle of Omaha” has signaled 2022 will mark the final time he does so.
Buffett has been offering the lunch packages since 2000, with proceeds benefitting the Glide Foundation, a San Francisco-based charity that serves the homeless population. In 2003, eBay began serving as the host for the auction lot. Since 2004, the lunches have often consisted of a meal for eight at the New York City steakhouse Smith & Wollensky.
The first lunch went for $25,000, but since 2008 winning bids have topped $1 million, with 2019’s lunch fetching a record high of nearly $4.6 million. Buffett did not offer a lunch in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. To date, the lunches have raised more than $34 million for the Glide Foundation, according to Reuters.com.
“Warren Buffett’s friendship and generosity over the past 22 years have been invaluable in deepening GLIDE’s impact on the systems that drive poverty and inequity,” GLIDE President and CEO Karen Hanrahan said in a statement. “We are honored and deeply grateful for his unwavering support of GLIDE’s mission over the past two decades and his legacy will have a lasting positive impact on GLIDE and the clients we serve.”
This year’s Power of One lunch auction will begin at 7:30 pm PDT on June 12 and end at 7:30 pm PDT on June 17. The opening bid is $25,000, and bidders must be pre-qualified before entering. Those interested can pre-qualify at https://www.ebayinc.com/glide/.
The lunches have been part of a string of personal auction lots Buffett has provided to benefit various charities. In 1999, Buffett provided a wallet he had been carrying for 20 years as one such lot. He promised to put a hot stock tip inside the wallet, which turned out to be First Industrial Realty Trust, a real estate investment trust.
The wallet, which also contained a Geico business card (Geico is owned by Berkshire Hathaway) and an expired discount card for the Hooters restaurant chain, ultimately netted $210,000 for Girls Inc., a women’s direct service and advocacy organization, according to The Wall Street Journal. And the stock did go up, although at the time the Journal noted that anything Buffett attached his name to was likely to gain value.
The wallet purchaser, John Morgan, raised more money for Girls Inc. by offering to disclose Buffett’s pick to anyone who contributed $1,000 to the charity. Some 30 people took Morgan up on his offer.
In 2006, Buffett provided his 2001 Lincoln Town Car as an auction lot, with the $73,200 in proceeds again going to Girls Inc.
While winning bidders can doubtless order anything from the Smith & Wollensky menu they want, Buffett’s own meal rarely changes. He typically has a medium-rare steak, hash browns and a cherry Coke, according CNBC Make It. On at least one occasion he eschewed ordering his own dessert, asking for several spoons so he could have a taste of everyone else’s.