[NEW YORK] Warren Buffett's annual charity lunch auction drew a winning bid of US$3.46 million, matching the record.
That final offer tied the record, which was set by an anonymous donor in 2012. The auction began Sunday and concluded Friday night in San Francisco. Bidding accelerated during the final day, reaching US$2.8 million during the afternoon, according to EBay Inc's website.
Mr Buffett, 85, has raised more than US$20 million through the lunches since 2000 to help Glide, which aids the homeless and poor in the city. The top bidder and as many as seven guests get a chance to dine with the billionaire at New York's Smith & Wollensky steakhouse.
Past winners have included hedge fund manager David Einhorn and Ted Weschler, the portfolio manager who would eventually join Mr Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc to help oversee investments.
Glide, which was founded by the Rev Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani, serves more than 2,000 meals a day to the homeless, provides medical services, and offers support groups for women facing domestic abuse.
Mr Williams, who joined Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in 1963, has helped start programs for crack cocaine addicts and those affected by AIDS.
Mr Buffett "likes our programs very much," Mr Williams said May 31 in a phone interview. "And the reason he does is because he knows that we are open and that we relate to people as they really are, and we love them as they really are."
Glide was brought to Mr Buffett's attention by his first wife, Susan, a volunteer for the foundation. The billionaire pledged in 2006 to donate the majority of his fortune to charity, mostly to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Susan Buffett died in 2004.
An anonymous bidder in 2012 set the record for the event with a US$3.46 million offer. That compares with last year's US$2.35 million from Zhu Ye, chairman of China's Dalian Zeus Entertainment Co.