Mekahlo Medina, Scott Meadows
Billionaire Warren Buffett is auctioning off a tour of the See's Candies factory to benefit an LA-based education nonprofit. Mekahlo Medina reports from Baldwin Hills for the NBC4 News at Noon on July 30, 2103.
Billionaire Warren Buffett is auctioning off an all-you-eat tour of the See's Candies factory in Los Angeles to benefit a local education nonprofit.
Bidding had reached $40,000 by Tuesday, but it remains to be seen whether the final price of the auction will rival the annual auction of lunch with Buffett which routinely tops $1 million.
The auction is being offered on the charitybuzz.com website, where the tour is valued at $75,000.
The "all-you-can-eat" tour of the facility in the Baldwin Hills area will allow the winning bidder to meet Buffett, but it's not clear if he'll go along, Willy Wonka-style.
"Before or after your tour, Mr. Buffett will demonstrate the only acceptable way to eat a bonbon," the auction posting states.
Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate has owned iconic Southern California candymaker See's Candies since 1972, and the billionaire spends hours munching on See's treats while answering questions at Berkshire's annual meetings.
The money from the auction will make a "tremendous" difference for Communities in Schools, the organization's leader said.
"It’s huge for us," Executive Director Deborah Marcus said. "What that does is basically pays for a site coordinator, a social worker, a counselor to work inside our public schools to support our kids who need it most."
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 Candies auction could affect bidding on the lunch auction. But then again, 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 of success. 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.
NBC4's Melissa Pamer contributed to this article.
Middle photo credit: flickr/Tracy Benjamin.