It will be one of the most expensive dinners in history. Not for the prices of Smith & Wollensky, the steakhouse on New York’s Third Avenue where it will be held, but for the right to share it with Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, one of the richest men in the world. It was the last auction to have dinner with him and it has been settled with a record offer of 19 million dollars (about 18 million euros) by a person who has preferred to remain anonymous. The funds will go to charity, to a San Francisco (California) charity.
Warren Buffett, 91, and his partner Charlie Munger, 98, denigrated cryptocurrencies at their last shareholders’ meeting, just over a month and a half ago. Since then, bitcoin has fallen 58% and other cryptocurrencies even more. It’s the kind of advice that could monetize a $19 million dinner. It was precisely a cryptocurrency entrepreneur, Justin Sun, who had set the previous record, in 2019, at 4.57 million dollars. In 2020 and 2021 there was no dinner with Buffett because of the pandemic.
The auction has been running on eBay all week. The starting price was $25,000. Soon the bidding became millionaire, but it did not really heat up until this very Friday, when it closed at midnight. The winning bid was a last minute bid of $19,000,100. The financier had announced that this was the last dinner he was auctioning, which has undoubtedly heated up the offers.
Throughout the Buffet dinners, more than 53 million dollars have been raised. The first was held in 2000 and was won by a bid of just $25,000. The following year, the price dropped to $18,000. In 2006 it was already at $620,000 and in 2008 it exceeded $2 million.
“It has been nothing but good,” said the businessman in a statement. “I have met many interesting people from all over the world. The only universal characteristic is that they feel that the money is going to be used for very good purposes”.
Entrepreneurs, financiers and fund managers have been among the winners of the dinners, although half of the time anonymity has been maintained. One of the winners, Ted Weschler, was signed by Buffett as a portfolio manager after winning the auction two years in a row, in 2010 and 2011, with $2.6 million each year.
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
Nerves and excitement at the auction
The funds will go to Glide, a San Francisco-based charity which aims to combat poverty and social injustice, assisting poor, vulnerable or homeless people. Karen Hanrahan, CEO of Glide, showed her nervousness at the gala in which the last section of the auction was broadcast. Hanrahan’s voice shook a little. She could barely stop looking at the screen as she chimed in from the dais: “My God, I’m nervous. And I’m not usually nervous. I’m nervous because these numbers are so big…”, she started her intervention. When there were 10 minutes left, the auction already marked 13.1 million dollars.
“I don’t know about you, but I feel some hope and inspiration just by looking at the numbers on the screen,” he added. The figure did not move until the last minute. Suddenly, it rose to 17.2 million, already unleashing euphoria in the room. When there were 18 seconds left, the winning offer arrived: 19 million. The choir that was at the gala sang: “Hallelujah, hallelujah!” Hanrahan gave a cry and repeated the figure in a broken voice.
The winner can bring up to seven guests, which lowers the cost per cover.