When it comes to expensive lunch dates, Warren Buffett takes the steak.
The 80-year-old American investor, currently ranked as the third wealthiest person in the world, recently offered a charity lunch for a lucky bidder and seven friends at Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in Manhattan. The winning amount? A record $2.63 million.
It's the 12th year that Buffett has participated in the auction, which benefits San Francisco's Glide charity. Since the first lunch in 2000 (which went for the bargain price of $25,000), the organization has raked in more than $11 million. This year's winning bidder reportedly paid more for the honor of beating last year's mark by $111.
Glide, which serves more than 1 million meals annually to the poor and homeless, will use the cash to "alleviate suffering and break the cycles of poverty and marginalization." Buffett says he was suspicious when he first heard his late wife, Susan, rave about the charity — but after visiting in person, he realized that it was an institution that never gave up on people.
"They took the people that the rest of the world had forgotten," he says in a clip on the site, "people who had given up on themselves —and they felt that every human being had a potential, no matter what their circumstances."
According to BusinessWeek, past winners of the lunch have used the opportunity to talk business — as well as gain insight into the inner workings of a man regarded as one of the smartest investors on the planet. In a 2008, investors Mohnish Pabrai and Guy Spier paid $650,100 for lunch with Buffett — and in an interview afterwards, they briefly revealed a bit of their conversation.
"And we had this discussion about truth, and honesty, integrity," said Pabri. "And just how Mr. Buffett approached it. And he talked about how he and Mr. Munger use an internal yardstick. And he used a very funny example. He said, 'Would you prefer to be the greatest lover in the world and known as the worst, or would you prefer to be the worst lover and known as the greatest?' And he said, 'If you know how to answer that correctly, then you have the right internal yardstick.' And I think to me that was one of the big takeaways."