How much should you tip on a $19mn restaurant bill?
The last chance to have lunch with 91-year-old billionaire Warren Buffett sold at an Ebay auction for $19mn on Friday night, after 43 bids. The sum is more than four times higher than the previous record set for a seat at Buffett’s table.
The winning bidder, who was not identified, will join the Oracle of Omaha for a one-hour “power lunch” at Smith & Wollensky in New York, “one of Mr Buffett’s favourite restaurants”. The lunch is part of a charity fundraiser for Glide, a non-profit working to alleviate poverty in the Bay Area of San Francisco.
Lunch with the nonagenarian was billed as a “grand finale” by the non-profit, and is expected to be Buffett’s last for Glide.
After a two-year break due to the pandemic, international bidding for lunch with Buffett, the chair and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, opened at $25,000 on June 12.
The lunches are legendary for both their price tags, and the fact that Buffett will talk about any subject except his investment plans. The idea for the first lunch was conceived by Buffett’s late wife Susie and sold for $25,000.
Buffett’s more than 20 lunches for Glide have raised more than $34mn since 2000, the non-profit said on Monday. All proceeds from the Buffett lunch will go to Glide.
“This record-breaking auction could not have come at a better time,” said Glide’s chief executive Karen Hanrahan. “While this is the grand finale [lunch], we look forward to many more years of treasured friendship with Warren Buffett.”
Past winners of Buffett’s lunches include hedge fund managers Ted Weschler and David Einhorn, Courtenay Wolfe of Salida Capital, investment manager Andy Chua, and most recently, cryptocurrency entrepreneur Justin Sun in 2019, who paid a record near-$4.6mn. The previous year’s auction winner paid $2.7mn. Many of the lunchers have remained anonymous.
Buffett is an outspoken lover of red meat, and Smith & Wollensky boasts the “best steaks in NYC”. The restaurant’s “classic 26oz prime rib” sells for $74. Previous winners have said Buffett orders his steak rare, with hash browns and a cherry coke. He gets extra spoons to try everyone’s desserts.
The winning bidder and up to seven friends must either show proof of vaccination or provide a negative PCR test in order to attend. Photos from the lunch may not be shared or posted on social media without Buffett’s approval. Lunch hopefuls had to pre-qualify before they could enter bids.
Lunch with Buffett is, however, tax deductible. Tip not included.