Jul 25, 2019 08:17 PM

Chart of the Day: The Chinese Tycoons Who Won a Buffett Lunch

The annual charity auction for lunch with iconic investor Warren Buffett has made international headlines again, as Caixin revealed on Tuesday that this year’s winning bidder, a controversial Chinese cryptocurrency entrepreneur, has been put on a border control list that bars him from leaving the Chinese mainland.

At the end of May, Justin Sun bid a record $4.57 million to win the chance to dine with the cryptocurrency-skeptic billionaire. However, Chinese authorities placed Sun on the border control list in June 2018 because of allegations targeting him including gambling, money laundering and illegal fundraising, sources told Caixin, adding that he is still on the list.

On Wednesday, Sun streamed a live video on Twitter showing he was actually in San Francisco. He denied that he would be blocked from leaving the mainland if he ever returned, specifically saying in social media posts earlier this week that Caixin’s report was untrue. Industry sources told Caixin that Sun has been living outside China this year.

The auctions for lunch with Buffett have attracted a large number of entrepreneurs across the globe since the philanthropist kicked off the project in 2000.

Over the past two decades, four Chinese businessmen, including Sun, have won the chance to have lunch with Buffett, chairman of New York-listed giant multinational Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Below is an overview of the four entrepreneurs:


In 2006, Duan Yongping, founder of consumer electronics manufacturer Guangdong BBK Electronics Industry Co. Ltd., won with a $620,100 bid, a record at the time and nearly double the previous year’s sum.

In 2008, Zhao Danyang, founder of Hong Kong-based investment firm Pureheart Capital Asia Ltd., paid a record $2.11 million, more than three times the winning bid in the year before.

Interestingly, on June 23, 2009, the day before his lunch with Buffett, Zhao told the press that he would give the business magnate a stock tip — then Hong Kong-listed retailer Wumart Stores Inc., the New York Times reported that year. Subsequently, Zhao’s words helped push up Wumart’s share price dramatically and added around $16 million to the value of his holdings in the company by the time he returned to China, which was well above what he paid for the lunch, the Times report said.

In 2015, Zhu Ye, former chairman of Shenzhen-listed game company Dalian Zeus Entertainment Co. Ltd., bid $2.35 million to win the chance to dine with Buffett, which took place in September that year. The company’s share price rose strongly in the following months. In September 2018, Zhu resigned (link in Chinese) as chairman and general manager of the company, months after he was put under investigation (link in Chinese) by China’s securities watchdog, according to exchange filings.

So far, Buffett lunch auctions have raised more than $30 million in total, according to a press release from e-commerce giant eBay Inc., which has hosted the auctions for 17 consecutive years. All the proceeds have gone to support nonprofit organization Glide Foundation’s “social services that help San Francisco’s most vulnerable residents,” the release said.

The project was conceived in 2000 by Buffett’s late wife, Susie Buffett, who supported the foundation’s efforts, according to another eBay press release.

Contact reporter Lin Jinbing (

Updated with additional details, and to correct the time that Justin Sun made his winning bid

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