If you’re looking for an opportunity to break bread with Warren Buffett, this could be your last chance to bend his ear.
The 91-year-old billionaire investor is raising money for charity by auctioning off a lunch with himself, reviving an annual tradition after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And according to the event’s partner, San Francisco-based nonprofit Glide, this charity lunch will be Buffett’s last.
Buffett’s annual “Power of One” charity auction lunches started in 2000 to raise money for Glide, which operates a church and provides meals and healthcare to poor and homeless people. That first year, the auction raised $25,000 from an anonymous donor. In 2019, the event’s most recent year, the winning bid was $4.57 million, submitted by cryptocurrency entrepreneur Justin Sun.
The lunches have now raised more than $34 million for Glide, the organization said on Monday.
Glide is billing this year’s auction as the event’s “grand finale.” Buffett and Glide haven’t publicly explained why the annual charity lunch is ending, but a Glide spokesperson told CNBC Make It in an email that “Mr. Buffett’s treasured friendship with Glide will continue” even the lunch series comes to a close.
The lunch auctions were originally conceived by Buffett’s first wife, Susie, who died in 2004. In 2017, Buffett told CNBC about choosing Glide, noting that the organization’s former pastor, Cecil Williams, “helps the people that the world has given up on and he never gives up on anyone.”
“They really take people who have hit bottom and help bring ’em back,” Buffett said. “And [Williams] has been doing it for decades, and he’s a remarkable man and if we can help out by raising some money for him, I enjoy doing it.”
In a statement Monday, Glide president and CEO Karen Hanrahan credited “Buffett’s friendship and generosity over the past 22 years” for “deepening Glide’s impact on the systems that drive poverty and inequity.”
The charity lunches — shared by Buffett, the auction’s winner and up to seven guests of the winner’s choosing — take place at a New York steakhouse called Smith & Wollensky, where Buffett’s standard order is “a medium-rare steak with hash browns and a cherry coke,” according to the restaurant and past auction winners.
Sun, the 2019 winner, is the founder of the TRON cryptocurrency and CEO of filesharing company Rainberry — and he used his lunch to pitch Buffett on the value of investing in crypto. The plan doesn’t seem to have worked: The billionaire told CNBC weeks after the lunch that he still didn’t own any cryptocurrency and “never will,” a public stance that hasn’t yet changed.
Still, a lunch with Buffett could provide you an opportunity to pitch the legendary investor on an idea, or to glean some of the investing insight he’s gathered from a decades-long career that’s helped him build a net worth of $120 billion, according to Bloomberg.
If that sounds appetizing, you can start bidding through online marketplace eBay on June 12 at 10:30 p.m. Eastern time. The bidding starts at $25,000, and the auction will conclude on June 17 at 10:30 p.m. Eastern time.
Update: This story has been updated to include a comment from a Glide spokesperson.