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Winning bid for Warren Buffett charity lunch: $26.5m

OMAHA, NEBRASKA (REUTERS) - A lucky, and likely wealthy, person bid more than US$19 million (S$26.5 million) to dine with billionaire Warren Buffett, in the 21st and final time that the businessman auctioned a private lunch to benefit a San Francisco charity.

The winning bid in the eBay auction that ended on Friday night (June 17) far surpassed the previous record of US$4.57 million, paid in 2019 by cryptocurrency entrepreneur Justin Sun, although the new winner's identity could not immediately be determined.

The proceeds benefit Glide, a non-profit in San Francisco's Tenderloin district that helps the poor, homeless or those battling substance abuse.

Glide offers meals, shelter, HIV and hepatitis C tests, job training and children's programmes.

Mr Buffett, 91, chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, has raised more than US$53.2 million for Glide in the 21 auctions, which began in 2000.

An eBay spokesman said the lunch was the most expensive item ever sold on the company's website to benefit charity. No auctions were held in 2020 and 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Buffett became a supporter of Glide after his first wife Susan, who died in 2004, introduced him to the charity, where she had been volunteering.

He has also pledged to give away nearly all of his fortune.

Mr Buffett was worth US$93.4 billion on Friday, ranking seventh worldwide, according to Forbes magazine.

This year's auction winner and up to seven guests will dine with Mr Buffett at the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in Manhattan.

Mr Buffett will talk about almost anything, but not where he may invest next.

Hedge fund managers David Einhorn and Ted Weschler are among previous auction winners.

Mr Weschler became a Berkshire portfolio manager after paying a combined US$5.25 million to win the 2010 and 2011 auctions.

Berkshire owns dozens of companies, including BNSF Railway, Geico car insurance, and energy, manufacturing and retail businesses, as well as stocks such as Apple and Bank of America.

Mr Buffett still owns nearly 16 per cent of the Omaha-based conglomerate, despite having donated more than half of his shares since 2006, including US$4 billion on June 14.

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