Warren Buffett's annual gift of Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is worth about $1.6 billion dollars this time around.
That's an increase of 28 percent from the value of last year's gift, even though Buffett is donating roughly one million fewer shares. Berkshire B shares are up almost 35 percent over the 12-months since Buffett's previous donation.
In a 2006 letter to Microsoft's Chairman and his wife, Buffett outlined a long-term schedule that has him donating five percent fewer shares each July, when compared to the previous year.
But Buffett told them "you can reasonably expect the value of Berkshire shares to increase, in an irregular manner, by an amount that more than compensates for the decline in the number of shares that will be distributed."
So far, that's turned out to be true for every year except 2009.
With this year's installment, Buffett has given the Gates Foundation 22.6 percent of the 500 million shares he earmarked four years ago, representating almost all of his vast personal fortune. Total market value at the time of the donations: almost $8 billion.
Buffett and Gates want their fellow billionaires to follow their lead, recently telling Fortune magazine they're actively urging everyone on the Forbes list of the 400 wealthiest Americans to pledge at least 50 percent of the net worth to charities.
UPDATE (July 2): An SEC filingFriday by Berkshire confirms this year's donation of $1.6 billion in stock to the Gates Foundation and lists another $300 million in stock donations to Buffett family foundations.
Current Berkshire stock prices: