The world's most expensive Buffett lunch

We're sure Warren Buffett's an interesting guy. But $2.1m just to have lunch with him...?

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

That’s the exorbitant sum paid by Chinese hedge fund manager Zhao Danyang for the privilege of having lunch with Warren Buffett at a steakhouse in New York. The legendary investor (or the Sage of Omaha, as acolytes like to call him) offers up this treat every year to raise money for charity – but this year’s winning eBay bid was more than all of the previous winning bids put together. It’s also three times more than the $650,000 his lunchtime chit-chat went for last year – proving that some things really do rise in value during the credit crunch...

In fact, it looks as though Buffett’s wisdom is becoming even more valuable. Since he was one of the few financiers who seemed to predict the recent market chaos (he’s been banging on about the dangers of complex instruments like CDOs for years) his opinion has actually gained even more cachet in the last 12 months. His vehicle Berkshire Hathaway (which focuses on long-term investments) is still making money hand-over-fist, while he’s recently emerged as a key figure in the mega-merger of Mars and Wrigley.

Zhao, who triumphed in a hotly-contested auction, now gets to pick seven of his closest friends/ potentially woo-able clients to accompany him to upmarket eaterie Smith & Wollensky in New York for the big day. He apparently runs a hedge fund in Hong Kong called Pureheart China Growth, so he’s probably not short of a few quid – but even by his standards this is going to be an expensive lunch. For $2.1m, you’re going to want a seriously good steak – in fact for that price, you’d want Buffett to carry it across from Argentina personally and serve it on a bed of his investment notes (we’re not even sure whether Zhao gets booze thrown in - although presumably he can stretch to a few bottles of the house red).

But of course we should remember that this ridiculous excess is all for a good cause: a homeless charity called the Glide Foundation in San Francisco, which at a stroke has just raised nearly 20% of its annual funding needs. And it won’t be the last organisation to benefit from Buffett’s largesse: he’s agreed to give most of his $50bn fortune to Bill Gates’s charitable foundation, which is set to make him one of the biggest philanthropists in history. Let’s hope his lunch guests come away with some of the same spirit...

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