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Bidding Begins for Warren Buffett Lunch Amid Doubts Last Year's $2.1M Will Be Topped

Bidding is now underway for an opportunity to have lunch with Warren Buffett.

The charity auction began late last night on eBay with a starting bid of $25,000. Participants must be pre-qualified before bidding.

Current high bid, as of this (Monday) morning: $30,100.

The auction closes at 10p ET this coming Friday night, June 26.

We'll be watching to see if the winning bid tops last year's record $2.1 million, paid by Zhao Danyang of the Hong-Kong based Pure Heart China Growth Investment Fund.

Zhao collects his lunch this coming Wednesday in New York City. He says he is "looking forward" to the "chance of a lifetime."

Zhao's bid could be a tough target to reach. It was more than three times greater than the previous record of $650,100 paid the year before by value investor Mohnish Pabrai and a friend. (Pabrai told us afterwards the experience was "worth every penny.")

Most value investors would call the gains in recent years evidence of an overheated market for Buffett lunches.

And there is the recession to consider. Economic conditions weren't all that great a year ago, but they've certainly gotten worse since then. That could make potential big spenders think twice.

The Associated Press says it's "questionable" this year's bidding will reach $2.1 million, while Reuters says "it remains to be seen if the global recession keeps the winning bid below last year's record" level.

San Francisco's Glide Foundation hopes bidders don't think about the economy too much. It's been the beneficiary of the annual auction for the past 10 years.

In a news release, Glide Founder Cecil Williams is quoted as saying, "Mr. Buffett’s generosity and long-time commitment to Glide’s work is amazing. These times are especially hard for people at the lowest income levels."

The release says the number of clients served by Glide's social services has "risen tremendously this past year due to the economic downturn."

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