May 26, 2006

Online Casino Wins Warren Buffett Ukulele Auction

By Jonathan Stempel

TORONTO (Reuters) - The auction for a ukulele autographed by billionaire Warren Buffett, renowned for his investing discipline, has been won by an online casino based in Antigua.

A spokesman for confirmed that the casino submitted the winning $11,211.11 bid for the white ukulele that Buffett, who runs insurance and investment company Berkshire Hathaway Inc., auctioned on eBay Inc.' Web site.

Proceeds will benefit Omaha Children's Hospital, which is part of the Children's Miracle Network. Berkshire Hathaway is based in Omaha, Nebraska.

Casino spokesman Jeff Kay said intends to display the ukulele in a "traveling museum" it sends to U.S. and Canadian cities.

The casino placed its winning bid, under the name "goldenpalacecasino," seven seconds before the auction closed Thursday night. The next highest bid was $11,111.11.

"Warren Buffett is quite the icon for many, many people," Kay said in an interview. "He is involved in many charities, and to have our name even associated with him is quite an honor.

A call to Buffett was not immediately returned. The 75-year-old plays the ukulele and received a copy of the auctioned instrument. International Dairy Queen, a Berkshire unit, helped create the ukulele for the auction.

Buffett is the world's second-richest person, after Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates, and was recently worth $42 billion according to Forbes magazine,

The ukulele fetched less than lunches that Buffett auctions each year on eBay to benefit the Glide Foundation, a San Francisco nonprofit that offers programs for the poor, hungry and homeless. Last year's lunch auction raised $351,100.

But it fared better on eBay than a copy of Benjamin Graham's classic book "The Intelligent Investor" said to have been autographed by Buffett and Charlie Munger, his second-in-command at Berkshire.

The book, with a hoped-for starting bid of $7,500, failed to attract any bids before its auction ended Friday morning.