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Winner of $1.68M lunch with Buffett identified

The Canadian investment managers who paid $1.68 million in a charity auction to win lunch with investor Warren Buffett believe the meal will be worth it because of what they might learn from the billionaire.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The Canadian investment managers who paid $1.68 million in a charity auction to win lunch with investor Warren Buffett believe the meal will be worth it because of what they might learn from the billionaire.

The Glide Foundation, which receives all the auction proceeds, identified Salida Capital, which is based in Toronto, as the winner of last month's auction.

Salida CEO Courtenay Wolfe she's looking forward to talking to the 78-year-old Buffett about his experience and his perspective on the world.

"We're excited to talk to him about broader themes that are affecting the global markets," Wolfe said.

Buffett annually auctions off a lunch to benefit Glide, which provides social services to San Francisco's homeless and poor.

Wolfe said she and her two partners at Salida plan to bring five of the firm's biggest supporters to the lunch with Berkshire's chairman and chief executive. The owners of the Smith & Wollensky restaurant in New York contributed $10,000 to Glide and will again host the lunch.

"Lunch with Warren Buffett is something we have always had on our 'dream list,'" she said.

Salida is marking its tenth anniversary this year, and Wolfe said it has recovered well from last year's difficult market, so the time seemed right to bid.

Salida's investment managers try to identify macro trends and take advantage of them, Wolfe said. Currently, the firm is heavily invested in commodities because Wolfe says they expect consolidation in the resource area.

Wolfe said having lunch with Buffett should be great personal development.

"This is a personal and professional investment by partners of the firm," she said. "For us, the opportunity to sit down with him face-to-face for lunch one-on-one and have a dialogue with him. For us, that's invaluable. And it's also going to an incredible cause."

Glide's founder, the Rev. Reverend Cecil Williams, said he is thankful for the support from both Salida and Buffett. Glide relies on donations for most of its $17 million budget.

"Glide is so fortunate that we were able to raise this amount of money which will help San Francisco's poor and disenfranchised," Williams said.

Buffett's late first wife, Susan, introduced the billionaire investor to Williams and the Glide Foundation. Buffett has said he enjoys being able to help Glide with the lunch because he's never found another charity more effective at lifting people out of despair.

Buffett is renowned for his investing success. The company owns more than 60 subsidiaries including insurance, furniture, clothing, jewelry and candy companies, restaurants, natural gas and corporate jet firms and has major investments in such companies as Coca-Cola Co. and Wells Fargo & Co.

But Buffett is also known for his plan to gradually give most of his $36 billion fortune to five foundations over time. The biggest chunk of Buffett's Berkshire stock will go to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Salida's bid is less than the record-setting $2.1 million bid that won last year. That 2008 bid on lunch with Buffett was the most expensive charity item eBay had ever sold.

Previously, the most expensive charity item ever sold on eBay was a letter from 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 $2.1 million on eBay in October 2007.

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. And he matched the bid.