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Lunch With Warren Buffett "Worth Every Penny" at $650,100

Wednesday, 25 Jun 2008 | 6:46 PM ET

The two investors who bid $650,100 in a charity auction to have lunch with Warren Buffett today tell CNBC the "fantastic" experience was "worth every penny."

Mohnish Pabrai and Guy Spier, well-known investors in their own right, teamed up to make the winning bid in last year's edition of the annual auction that benefits San Francisco's Glide Foundation.

They collected their prize today at New York's Smith & Wollensky Steakhouse.

Before the lunch, Buffett said in a live interview on CNBC that U.S. inflation is "exploding." Details on that interview can be found in WBW's Executive Summary. We have also posted a complete transcript.

Bidding is currently underway for the next "Power Lunch" with Warren, which will be held in the future. That auction closes Friday night. So far, the high bid is still in five-figures, but the price will almost certainly rise dramatically as the deadline approaches.

After their meal this afternoon, Pabrai and Spier spoke to Becky Quick in a live interview on CNBC's Closing Bell.

Here's what they had to say:

Lunch With Warren
CNBC's Becky Quick interviews the winners of the annual Power Lunch With Warren Buffett auction.

Becky Quick: $650,100 is what you two paid to have a 2-1/2 hour lunch with Mr. Buffett. Was it worth it?

Mohnish Pabrai: Every penny. I think we would have been willing to pay a lot more than that. Well worth it. We were here with our families and it was just fantastic.

Becky: And you were here with your wives, your children. What did you think of that?

Guy Spier: Absolutely. I had my wife. My children are too young to come. It's, as Mohnish told me the first time we talked about the lunch, the lunch is free. All the money went to Glide. And how many times do you give to charity and you don't get a lunch with Warren Buffett? So there's a double bonus.

Becky: I've intentionally not asked you guys questions. I'm going to put you on the spot. Tell me the thing you took away most, the most interesting answer that you heard from Mr. Buffett while you were there. Mohnish, you go first.

Pabrai: I think there were so many, but I think some of the things that come to mind are, we had a discussion about internal yardsticks. And we had this discussion about truth, and honesty, integrity. And just how Mr. Buffett approached it. And he talked about how he and Mr. Munger use an internal yardstick. And he used a very funny example. He said, 'Would you prefer to be the greatest lover in the world and known as the worst, or would you prefer to be the worst lover and known as the greatest?' And he said, 'If you know how to answer that correctly, then you have the right internal yardstick.' And I think to me that was one of the big takeaways.

Spier: Just expanding on that a little, it's a very interesting person who can walk around, imagine that the world, the feedback that they're getting is that they're awful at what they do, but deep down they know that what they're doing is right. And the conversation went into the kinds of people who can do that for not just a few weeks at a time, but who can be doing that for years at a time. But something that's just coming to me right now, and very genuinely from the heart, we talked about how Cecil Williams (of the Glide Foundation) does what he loves to do, taking care of people at Glide, and Warren Buffett does what he loves to do. And he genuinely knows that he and Cecil Williams are equally happy. And it's so important to be doing what you genuinely love doing, which came across in spades.

Becky: While you gentlemen were in having lunch, the Fed decision came out. And did you all know anything at all about what was happening with that? Were you discussing business while you were in there?

Pabrai: Well, we didn't want to waste time on such minutia. (Laughter.) So that was totally irrelevant. In fact, I don't think we were even aware when that decision came out about what happened. It was very clear it was on no one's mind at that table.

Becky: You guys still sound like you're still kind of walking on clouds here.

Spier: Absolutely.

Becky: And would you do it again?

Pabrai: Absolutely. I think it was just wonderful. In fact, one of the bonuses of the lunch for my wife and me is Warren agreed to set up lunch between Charlie (Munger) and us for free. So that was a very unexpected bonus and we are looking forward to that.

Spier: You know, Mohnish, we may have to go back and plan, perhaps, to bid again for next year, just to perhaps to repeat, repeat the experience.

Pabrai: Absolutely.

Current Berkshire price:

See Warren Buffett Watch on CNBC's The Call, most weekday mornings at 11:50a ET

Questions? Comments? Email me at buffettwatch@cnbc.com

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