How much would you pay to have lunch with famed investor Warren Buffett? The price tag was more than $3.3 million for this year’s auction benefiting a San Francisco human services organization.
Bidding opened on May 27 at $25,000 and lasted until June 1, eventually reaching $3,300,100. The winning bidder — who wished to remain anonymous — and up to seven friends will have the opportunity to dine with Buffett at Smith & Wollensky in New York City.
This year’s winning bid is $621,099 more than last year’s winning bid of $2,679,001, an increase exceeding 23 percent. All of the proceeds benefit GLIDE, a human services organization serving San Francisco for more than 50 years. The power lunch accounts for more than 10 percent of GLIDE’s annual budget and has raised more than $25 million for it over the years. It’s the 16th year that eBay for Charity has worked with GLIDE.
The nonprofit is located in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, serving the homeless and providing programs that include free meals, HIV/Hepatitis C testing and counseling, housing assistance, domestic violence counseling and abatement, substance use recovery, childcare and after-school and summer youth programs.
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This year’s winning bid is the third highest in the auction’s 19-year history. In 2012 and 2016, the winning bid was $3,456,789. The auction started in 2000 with a winning bid of $25,000, and grew rapidly from there, with winning bids eclipsing $500,000 in 2003, and jumping from six figures to $2.1 million in 2008.
“GLIDE really takes people who have hit rock bottom and helps bring them back,” Buffett said in a statement announcing the winning bid. “They’ve been doing it for decades. If I can help out by raising some money for them, then I enjoy doing it,” he said.
“We are overjoyed with the result of this year’s auction,” said GLIDE President and CEO Karen Hanrahan. “The money raised will provide direct support to help the disenfranchised transform their lives. As the need for GLIDE’s services continues to grow, this money allows GLIDE to remain a driving force for racial and economic equity in San Francisco and beyond,” she said.
GLIDE co-founder and minister of liberation, the Rev. Cecil Williams, expressed gratitude to the winning bidder and to Buffett for his continued support and investment in the community. “This one power lunch will help us to serve thousands with unconditional love and kindness,” he said.