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Warren Buffett Biography

Berkshire Hathaway Announces Charitable Giving Program

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Changes in Warren Buffett's Personal Life

It was shortly thereafter one of the most profound and upsetting events in Buffett's life took place. At forty-five, Susan Buffett left her husband - in form. Although she remained married to Warren, the humanitarian / singer secured an apartment in San Francisco and, insisting she wanted to live on her own, moved there. Warren was absolutely devastated; throughout his life, Susie had been "the sunshine and rain in my [his] garden". The two remained close, speaking every day, taking their annual two-week New York trip, and meeting the kids at their California Beach house for Christmas get-togethers. The transition was hard for the businessman, but he eventually grew somewhat accustomed to the new arrangement. Susie called several women in the Omaha area and insisted they go to dinner and a movie with her husband; eventually, she set Warren up with Astrid Menks, a waitress. Within the year, she moved in with Buffett, all with Susie's blessing.

Warren Buffett Wants Two Nickels to Rub Together

By the late '70s, the his reputation had grown to the point that the rumor Warren Buffett was buying a stock was enough to shoot its price up 10%. Berkshire Hathaway's stock was trading at more than $290 a share, and Buffett's personal wealth was almost $140 million. The irony was that Warren never sold a single share of his company, meaning his entire available cash was the $50,000 salary he received. During this time, he made a comment to a broker, "Everything I got is tied up in Berkshire. I'd like a few nickels outside."

This prompted Warren to start investing for his personal life. According to Roger Lowenstein's "Buffett", Warren was far more speculative with his own investments. At one point he bought copper futures which was unadulterated speculation. In a short time, he had made $3 million dollars. When prompted to invest in real estate by a friend, he responded "Why should I buy real estate when the stock market is so easy?"

Berkshire Hathaway Announces Charitable Giving Program

Later, Buffett once again showed his tendency of bucking the popular trend. In 1981, the decade of greed, Berkshire announced a new charity plan which was thought up by Munger and approved by Warren. The plan called for each shareholder to designate charities which would receive $2 for each Berkshire share the stockholder owned. This was in response to a common practice on Wall Street of the CEO choosing who received the company's hand-outs (often they would go to the executive's schools, churches, and organizations). The plan was a huge success and over the years the amount was upped for each share. Eventually, the Berkshire shareholders were giving millions of dollars away each year, all to their own causes. The program was eventually discontinued after associates at one of Berkshire's subsidiaries, The Pampered Chef, experienced discrimination because of the controversal pro-choice charities Buffett chose to allocate his pro-rated portion of the charitable contribution pool. Another important event around this time was the stock price which hit $750 per share in 1982. Most of the gains could be attributed to Berkshire's stock portfolio which was now valued at over $1.3 billion dollars.

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