Dinner Anyone?
Duan Yongping To Brush Up Table Manners

A lunch date with billionaire investor Warren Buffett is getting pricier. Someone paid US$620,100 in an online charity auction to dine with the Oracle of Omaha in New York. In last year's auction, the winning bid was US$351,100. Five individuals placed 29 bids in the eBay auction that ended Thursday evening. The winner of the auction was identified only by the eBay user name "fastisslow." Proceeds from the auction go to the Glide Foundation, which provides social services to the poor and homeless in San Francisco. The winning bidder will be able to take seven friends to lunch with Buffett, who is chairman and chief executive of Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway. The owners of the Smith and Wollensky restaurant in New York contributed US$10,000 to Glide and will host the lunch.

This year's lunch with Buffett is the second-most expensive charity item ever sold on eBay. The most expensive charity item ever sold on eBay was a Harley Davidson motorcycle autographed by celebrities that Jay Leno offered last year. That bike raised US$800,100 for the American Red Cross' tsunami relief effort. The next highest-priced charity item was a lunch and golf outing for four with Tiger Woods that sold in 2001 for US$425,000. This is the fourth year Buffett has auctioned a lunch on eBay and donated the proceeds to the Glide Foundation. Buffett began auctioning the lunches for the charity off-line in 2000.

Yongping Duan, a 45 year old California investor and former consumer electronics company owner is the proud winner of Ebay's auction for Lunch with Warren Buffett. Identified on Ebay as "fastisslow", he beat out a Taipei businessman named Rocky Liang whose Ebay name is "magicyourlife". After reading one of Buffett's books Duan said "I mostly want to thank him'' for the advice."... Duan gets to bring seven friends to a New York steakhouse to query Buffett, the world's second-richest man, about his business strategy and investment philosophy. The 75-year-old chairman and chief executive officer of Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. transformed a failing textile manufacturer into a US$142 billion holding company by acquiring out-of-favor securities and businesses in dozens of industries.

``We didn't pay for the lunch, we paid for the fundraising,'' Duan said. The Enlight Foundation, which his family founded and runs, will provide the donation, he said. ``Warren Buffett chose the pocket for me to donate to.'' ... Duan was a ``proxy'' bidder, meaning EBay automatically topped the highest offer by $100 on his behalf. The world's largest online auctioneer was authorized to do so as long as the offer didn't exceed his limit of US$650,000.

Mohnish Pabrai, who manages US$300 million at Pabrai Investment Funds in Irvine, California, including about US$30 million in Berkshire shares, stopped bidding at $502,300. ``My wife will treat me to a good dinner, and we will come back next year,'' he said of losing, in an interview before the auction ended....

Duan Yongping went to Zhejiang University in 1978, majored in Wireless Electronics Engineering. After his graduation, he worked in Beijing for a while and then obtained a master degree in Econometrics from Renmin University. After that, Duan started his career as an entrepreneur in South China in 1989. Ten years later, he achieved great success in building up two of the most famous brands in China ¨C Subor ( Xiao Ba Wang) and BBK ( Bu Bu Gao) and became a young hero of business in China....

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