Warren Buffett auctioned off a wallet containing a stock tip for $210,000 in 1999

warren buffettREUTERS/Jim Young

Summary List Placement

  • Warren Buffett raised $210,000 for charity in 1999 by auctioning off a wallet containing a stock tip.
  • The famed investor’s 20-year-old wallet also contained a Geico business card and an expired Hooters discount pass, according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • The winning bidder offered to share the stock tip with anyone who donated at least $1,000 to Omaha charity Girls Inc, and around 30 people agreed to his terms.
  • Buffett’s stock tip was First Industrial Realty Trust, a real-estate investment trust in which he personally invested $43 million then cashed out within a couple of years.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Warren Buffett auctioned off a wallet containing a stock tip, a Geico business card, and an expired Hooters half-price pass for $210,000 in 1999.

The billionaire investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway — which owns auto-insurer Geico — donated the proceeds to Girls Inc, a charity which helps young girls in his hometown of Omaha, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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Buffett’s 20-year-old wallet was nothing special. Its only claim to fame was surviving almost an hour in a Minnesota lake after Buffett’s business partner Charlie Munger accidentally sunk their fishing boat.

However, Buffett’s inclusion of a “winning” stock tip attracted lots of interest. His chosen stock turned out to be First Industrial Realty Trust, a real-estate investment trust that owns warehouses and distribution facilities across the US.

The winner of Buffett’s wallet, John Morgan, promised to share the tip with anyone who donated at least $1,000 to Girls Inc. About 30 people took him up on his offer including Fred Henry, a 40-year-old well driller at the time, whose family quickly bought some First Industrial shares.

“We kind of tried to keep it quiet a little bit until we got ourselves into position,” Henry told The Journal. “It’s been a fun little adventure.”

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Henry had been hoping for a more exciting stock recommendation such as Level Three Communications, a telecoms group that was eventually acquired by CenturyLink in 2017. “I guess I’m not as conservative as Mr Buffett,” he said.

Indeed, Buffett liked First Industrial enough to personally shell out $43 million for a 4% stake in the company. Yet he didn’t hold it for long, as Berkshire told The Journal in August 2001 that he was no longer an investor.

As for the Hooters pass, Buffett received that in exchange for letting the restaurant chain feature his birthday on their calendars, The Journal said. The investor was upgraded to a Hooters VIP card in 2006, allowing him to eat for free at any of their locations.

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