OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Billionaire Warren Buffett is auctioning off an all-you-can-eat tour of the See’s Candy factory in California to benefit an education nonprofit there.
Bidding had already reached $35,000 by Monday afternoon, but it remains to be seen whether the final price of this auction will rival the annual auction of lunch with Buffett which routinely tops $1 million.
The online auction that runs through Aug. 13 will benefit Communities In Schools of Los Angeles. It is being offered on the charitybuzz.com website.
Buffett says he’ll teach the auction winner the proper way to eat a bonbon during the half-day tour. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate has owned See’s Candy since 1972, and he spends hours munching on See’s treats while answering questions at Berkshire’s annual meetings.
Buffett did not immediately respond to questions about this new auction Monday.
For more than a decade, the only time Buffett auctioned off a chance to meet with him was the lunch auction that helps fund the Glide Foundation’s efforts to help the poor and homeless in San Francisco.
The winner of this year’s lunch auction paid $1,000,100. That’s a bargain compared to the previous five years when the winning bids all topped $2 million, including the record 2012 bid of $3,456,789.
This new See’s Candy auction could affect bidding on the lunch auction. But Glide Foundation founder Rev. Cecil Williams said he’s not worried about interest in the lunch auction declining.
“We are pleased and happy to see Mr. Buffett engaging in this opportunity,” Williams said. “He is a giver, not a divider and he will be giving again to the community. This is another way for him to help people.”
And the winners of the lunch auction are guaranteed more time to talk with Buffett, which could help keep that event more valuable.
The lunch auction winners get to spend several hours asking Buffett questions about business, philanthropy and life.
The fine print on the candy auction site promises only a meeting with Buffett where the winner can take a picture with the renowned investor and get something autographed, so the candy tour may not offer nearly as much opportunity to learn from Buffett.
Investors all over the world watch what Buffett does and try to copy his moves because of his remarkable track record. Through the end of 2012, Buffett’s Berkshire has delivered a compounded annual gain of 19.7 percent to investors — more than double the S&P 500’s growth rate.
And Buffett, 82, has been gradually giving away his fortune since 2006. He plans to eventually divide most of his shares of Berkshire stock between five charitable foundations, with the largest block going to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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.
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