Win a lunch date with Warren Buffett

By Hibah Yousuf, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A chance to score a coveted lunch date with billionaire and influential investor Warren Buffett is back.

The annual online charity auction to dine with the Oracle of Omaha, which began Sunday evening and concludes Friday night on eBay (EBAY, Fortune 500), requires bidders to pre-qualify and shell out a minimum of $25,000.

So far, there aren't any bids, but it's still early. The auction typically draws a majority of bids in the final days of the auction, according to Chris Noble, chief executive of Kompolt, which manages the auction.

The winner and seven friends get to pick the brain of the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA, Fortune 500) over a steak lunch in Manhattan at Smith & Wollensky, which picks up the tab and donates funds to host the event each year. Last year, Smith & Wollensky increased its donation to $25,000 from $10,000.

Winners are typically from the financial world, but sometimes bring their spouses or children to join the conversation, and most keep in touch with Buffett following the lunch.

"In every one of them, I have met interesting people and gotten more than my time's worth out of doing it," Buffett told CNNMoney's Poppy Harlow. "The spirit has been wonderful."

Last year's winner, Courtenay Wolfe, president and chief executive of Canadian hedge fund Salida Capital, topped 116 bids with $1.68 million to lunch with Buffett for about three hours in February. In 2008, Zhao Danyang, manager of Hong Kong-based Pure Heart Asset Management, coughed up $2.11 million, the highest price paid for a charity item sold on eBay.

The proceeds benefit Glide Foundation, which fights poverty and homelessness in San Francisco and was introduced to Buffett by his first wife, Susan Buffett, who died in 2004.

The previous auctions for lunch with Buffett have collectively raised more than $6 million for the non-profit.

--CNNMoney.com anchor Poppy Harlow contributed to this report.  To top of page

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