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Warren Buffett lunch, sans inside secrets, goes for $1mln+

by NBC News staff and wire reports /  / Updated 
Berkshire Hathaway CEO and Chairman Warren Buffett speaks during an interview with Liz Claman of the Fox Business Network, in Omaha, Neb., Monday, May 6, 2013.Nati Harnik / AP

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For just over $1 million, the winner of a charity auction will get to chow down with one of the world's most successful businessmen -- Warren Buffett. But that doesn't mean the billionaire will be giving away any trade secrets.

Buffett said he will spend several hours discussing whatever the as-yet anonymous winner wants to talk about over lunch, except Berkshire Hathaway's chairman and CEO won't talk about potential investments.

The annual charity auction of a private lunch with Buffett went for just over $1 million — a bargain price compared to past years for an opportunity to sit down with the man known as "The Oracle of Omaha," who is also a noted philanthropist.

An anonymous donor had the high bid of $1,000,100 when the bidding ended Friday night on eBay. The private audience with the investor drew bids of more than $2 million in each of the past five years, including last year's record-setting winning bid of $3,456,789. in 2011, fund manager Ted Weschler's $2.63 million bid also won him a job as an investment manager at Berkshire Hathaway.

All proceeds go to the Glide Foundation, which helps the poor and homeless in San Francisco. The nonprofit organization relies on the auction to provide a significant chunk of its $17 million annual budget.

Last year's Buffett lunch was the most-expensive charity item ever sold on eBay. The most expensive item ever sold on eBay was a jet that drew $4.9 million in 2001, eBay spokeswoman Karen Sayah said.

The owners of New York's Smith & Wollensky steakhouse have again donated $10,000 to Glide, so they can host the meal with Buffett. But for the past three years the winners have chosen to remain anonymous, and they dined with Buffett at one of his favorite Omaha steak restaurants.

Since 2006, Buffett, 82, has been gradually giving away his fortune. He plans to eventually divide most of his shares of Berkshire stock between five charitable foundations, with the largest chunk going to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Buffett has raised nearly $15 million for Glide with these auctions over the years. He has supported Glide ever since his late first wife, Susan, introduced him to the Rev Cecil Williams, the organization's founder.

The San Francisco Business Times quoted Williams as saying budget cuts were likely due to this year's low auction results. But Williams later told Reuters the quote was inaccurate, and Glide would continue its fundraising efforts to meet its annual budget. He expressed gratitude for Buffett's longtime support and for the winning bid, calling it an important gift.

Glide is marking its 50th anniversary this year, and Buffett said he believes the charity does a remarkable job helping people the world has written off find hope and become contributing members of society again.

Buffett's Berkshire owns roughly 80 subsidiaries, including clothing, furniture and jewelry firms. Its insurance, utility and railroad businesses typically account for more than half of the company's net income. It also has major investments in such companies as Coca-Cola Co. and Wells Fargo & Co.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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