Andy Chua paying $2.7 million to lunch with Warren Buffett

From ‘Singapore’s Andy Chua snags the right to dine with Warren Buffett with $2.7 million bid’, 8 June 2014, ST

Singapore’s Andy Chua has won the right to dine with the world’s third-richest man Warren Buffett, news reports said on Saturday. Mr Chua won the privilege of a dinner with Mr Buffett, one of the savviest stock investors in the world, with a single bid of US$2,166,766 (S$2.71 million). No other details about Mr Chua were immediately available.

The proceeds will benefit a San Francisco charity. The Omaha World-Herald reported that Mr Chua and seven guests will get to meet Mr Buffett, the Chief Executive of Berkshire Hathaway, in Manhattan for lunch at Smith & Wollensky, a 10-restaurant chain of steakhouses with small-batch bourbons and deep-polished wood, where a shrimp cocktail goes for about US$20 and the long bone rib-eye close to US$70.

Bidding started last Sunday at US$25,000. By Tuesday, the US$500,000 mark had been reached. The bidding surpassed US$1 million on Wednesday. On Friday evening, there was a flurry of late bids. Bloomberg News reported that Mr Chua was the 12th and final hopeful to bid with less than 10 minutes to go in the auction on Friday evening.

The winning bid was more than double last year’s US$1 million winner, the Omaha World-Herald said.

Like the owners of the most expensive car in the country, Andy Chua is relatively unknown, supposedly another mystery Singaporean tycoon. And for good reason;  if I had a vault of pure gold hidden beneath my backyard I would choose to remain a recluse too. Not all rich folk collect European football clubs like Peter Lim. For Chua, a million dollars per hour with Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, is worth splurging on.  Perhaps you’d get priceless money-making tips that Buffett doesn’t already tell you in his books. You’d also get some insight into his favourite foods: Medium-rare steak, hash browns and a cherry coke. One lucky diner didn’t just go away with investment tips. Ted Weschler was given a job at Berkshire Hathaway. So not only is this a 2 million dollar power lunch, it may also be the most expensive interview ever. Amazingly, Chua’s not the first one from Singapore to spend a few hours power-lunching with an investment god.

In 2005, Jason Choo spent almost ONE-TENTH of Chua’s bid to score a date with Buffett. All that is known about this guy is that he spent 3 hours with his idol at the same steakhouse with his wife, and was a 33 YEAR OLD investor and Vegas regular then. Jason and Andy join the ranks of other Asian men who have had the privilege of spending some private moments with Buffett, including China’s Zhao Danyang (2007) and  Duan Yongping (2006), with reports claiming that the 2011 and 2012 Anonymous winners might also have been Chinese. I wonder if these guys’ net worth skyrocketed since eating steak with Buffett, or continued to do anything for the same charity outside of seeing an 83-year old billionaire put food in his mouth.

Proceeds for the luncheon go to the Glide foundation charity that donates a million meals each year to the poor in San Francisco. We’ve had similar charity bids locally. In 2012, a bunch of food bloggers got people to bid for Valentine’s Day dinner dates for the Spastic Children’s Association. Daniel Ang was ‘sold’ for $82. 65. If Choo and Chua had given their money to the Hair for Hope cause instead (target $3.6 million this year), not only would they have given local cancer-striken children a new lease of life, but saved many scalps as well. The same amount could also spare thousands of masochists from suffering blisters on their feet participating in Bare Your Sole 2014. Personally, I wouldn’t give my life savings just to have lunch with anyone. Other than Aladdin’s Genie, perhaps.

UPDATE: Andy Chua is the chairman of the AMES United group, formerly Yun Nam Hair Care, and is in the beauty empire business. Well I’m sure those two have plenty to talk about then.  I wonder why AMES is named like a football club, though. (AMES stands for Achievement Morale Efficiency Significance. Funny, I thought it should be American-Megabillionaire-Emulating Singaporean.)

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