Warren Buffett, the legendary investor who turns 92 in August, will host a charity lunch with the winner of an online auction for one last time this year, ending a tradition that has attracted Buffett admirers around the world since 2000.
The annual “Power Lunch with Warren Buffet” auction returned on eBay on June 12 after a two-year pandemic pause, with bidding starting at $25,000. The auction is scheduled to end at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time on June 17. The winner will have the chance to bring up to seven guests to a one-hour lunch with Buffett at New York’s Smith & Wollensky Steakhouse, where the billionaire has hosted most editions of the event.
All proceeds of the auction will go to the Glide Foundation, a San Francisco nonprofit with a mission to alleviate poverty and promote justice. Glide had a close relationship with Buffett’s late wife, Susan, who started the annual charity event.
Glide didn’t say why this year’s Power Lunch will be the final one. Buffett recently said in an interview he is in excellent health and has no plans to retire as CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, his investment conglomerate.
Past “Power Lunch” Winners
The price of the charity lunch has skyrocketed over the years. In its first three years, in which Glide held the live auctions, winners paid barely more than $25,000. More bidders participated in the event after it was moved online in 2003. After 2008, every auction fetched more than $1 million.
The last Power Lunch before Covid, in 2019, was sold for a record $4.56 million to Justin Sun, a then 28-year-old Chinese crypto entrepreneur. The previous year, the auction’s winner paid $2.7 million.
Dishes on Smith & Wollensky’s menu range from a $35 grilled pork chop to a $59 sirloin. Buffett’s favorite is a medium-rare steak with hash browns and a cherry coke, according to a 2007 winner of the auction. Topics discussed over the table in past years included career advice, life lessons, and even job opportunities at Berkshire Hathaway.
Ted Weschler, a hedge fund manager who won twice in 2010 and 2011, was hired by Buffett a portfolio manager a year after the lunch meeting. He has stayed with the firm since then and has been mentioned as a possible successor at Berkshire Hathaway after Buffett retires.
Eight of the past 19 Power Lunch winners chose not to be named. The other 11 included businessmen from the U.S., Canada, China and Singapore.
This year’s final auction is on track to create another record. The highest bid currently stands at $3 million. Four pre-qualified bidders have put in eight bids in total.