A Chinese investment fund manager won the chance to have lunch with billionaire Warren Buffett by bidding US$2.11 million in the most expensive charity auction ever held on eBay.
Zhao Danyang of Hong Kong-based Pureheart China Growth Investment Fund made the winning bid for the lunch.
And it appears that Zhao and Buffett share a similar philosophy.
The investment approach that Zhao's fund describes on its Website is similar to Buffett's tactics of finding companies with an enduring competitive advantage that are selling for less than they are worth.
Zhao and up to seven friends will dine with Buffett at the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in New York City whenever the two men can schedule it.
Buffett, chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, is primarily known for his investing success. Berkshire owns more than 60 subsidiaries including insurance, clothing, furniture, jewelry and candy companies, restaurants, natural gas and corporate jet firms. It also has major investments in such companies as Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch and Wells Fargo & Co.
But Buffett is also known for his philanthropy. In 2006, he announced his plan to give away the bulk of his nearly US$49 billion fortune over time. Most of his shares of Berkshire stock will go to five charitable foundations, with the largest going to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Buffett has been auctioning off lunches online for six years but began auctioning one lunch a year for the Glide Foundation in 2000.
All proceeds from the auction went to Glide, a charity helping poor and homeless people in San Francisco.
"It almost feels like a miracle," Glide's founder Reverend Cecil Williams said in a statement. "We are amazed and ready to continue our work of breaking the cycles of poverty."
Williams called Buffett's dedication to the charity lunches amazing.
"Thank you, Warren Buffett, for your deep compassion and sensitivity that empowers us to transform the lives of so many people in need," Williams said.
The foundation operates on a US$12 million annual budget, spokeswoman Denise Lamott said. Last year's lunch brought in US$650,100.
Lamott said eBay officials confirmed that this year's lunch with Buffett was the most expensive charity item the site has ever sold.
Previously, the most expensive charity item ever sold on eBay was a letter from United States Democratic senators blasting conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh for using the phrase "phony soldiers" on his program. The letter signed by 41 senators sold for US$2.1 million on eBay last October.
The proceeds from Limbaugh's auction went to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, which provides scholarships to children of Marines or federal law enforcement personnel who were killed while serving their country.
(Shanghai Daily June 30, 2008)