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Chinese fan forks out $620,000 for lunch with Buffett

Stephen Foley
Saturday 01 July 2006 00:23 BST

A California investor has paid $620,100 (£335,000) for lunch with Warren Buffett, the billionaire investment guru, after a charity auction on eBay.

Yongping Duan said that he planned to use the lunch at a New York steakhouse to say thank you to Mr Buffett, whose investment advice he has followed since arriving in the US five years ago with his family.

Mr Duan, who used to run a computer company in China and has set up his own charitable foundation in the US, said: "I learned a lot from Warren Buffett and his philosophy. I plan to ask him, when you have too much money in your hand, and don't find very good targets, what do you do? I believe he's very good at this kind of thing."

Mr Buffett, who is known as the Sage of Omaha for his investment wisdom, announced last weekend that he would give most of his $44bn fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over the next few years. He had previously planned to wait until he died to donate his wealth to his own charitable foundations.

His annual auction of lunch for up to eight people - a modest philanthropic gesture by comparison - raises funds for the Glide Foundation, a church charity that provides free meals to the poor and homeless in the San Francisco Bay area which his late wife used to work for.

Earlier this year, Mr Buffett - who often entertained his shareholders with a strum on a ukulele - sold a ukulele on eBay for more than $11,000.

The lunch auction had been open on eBay for two weeks, with bidding starting at $25,000. The 2006 result is the first time the bidding has topped half a million dollars, and Mr Duan and a second bidder pushed the price up by $70,000 in just the final three minutes of the auction.

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