Warren Buffett lunch sells for record $2.11 mln

NEW YORK, June 27 Sat Jun 28, 2008 4:21am BST

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NEW YORK, June 27 (Reuters) - It takes millions to have lunch with someone who control billions.

A bidder agreed to pay $2.11 million to have lunch with billionaire Warren Buffett, more than triple last year's record for the annual charity auction.

The winner, Zhao Danyang, a general manager at Pure Heart China Growth Investment Fund, won the right to dine with the 76-year-old chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRKa.N) (BRKb.N), a spokeswoman at the Glide Foundation said.

Auction proceeds benefit the Glide Foundation, a non-profit group in San Francisco's Tenderloin district that helps serve poor and homeless people.

The five-day online auction concluded on Friday night on eBay Inc.'s (EBAY.O) Web site. After starting at $25,000, a battle broke out between two bidders in the final stretch of the auction with bid prices jumping seven-fold in two hours.

Last year's winners, including Mohnish Pabrai, an Irvine, California-based investor who models his investment style on Buffett's, dined with Buffett this week in New York at steakhouse Smith & Wollensky. [ID:nN25471285]

Pabrai, who bid for 5 years before being the top bidder, and Guy Spier, a friend who runs the Aquamarine LLC hedge fund, paid a then record $650,100 to dine with Buffett.

Zhao was not immediately reachable for comment.

An eBay spokeswoman said the bid was among the highest priced items ever up for auction on the service and is the most expensive charity bid in its history, topping the $2.1 million price paid for a letter to radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

Buffett has pledged most of his fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and four family charities. Forbes magazine earlier this year estimated his net worth at $62 billion.

Buffett began donating the lunches in 2000, after his wife Susan introduced him to Glide, its affiliated church, and the Rev. Cecil Williams, who runs both.

The auctions were conducted live for three years, and have raised over $4 million for Glide since moving to the Web in 2003. Glide's annual budget is about $12 million.

Buffett has since 1965 transformed Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire from a failing textile maker into a conglomerate with more than 70 businesses ranging from insurance to ice cream to underwear, and a market value exceeding $168 billion. (Reporting by Lilla Zuill and Kenneth Li; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

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