The idea of auctioning off time with a celebrity is not a new one. The concept of "auction lunch" was first popularized by none other than the "stock god" Warren Buffett, and since then many other celebrities and public figures have followed suit.
The idea behind these auctions is simple – to exchange a small amount of their time for a large sum of money, which is usually donated to charity or used for fundraising purposes.
Buffett's lunch auctions have become particularly famous, with the results of the 2012 auction being especially noteworthy. After 106 rounds of bidding, a mystery buyer offered $3.46 million to have lunch with the investment tycoon. Over the course of 13 years, these auctions have raised a total of over $14 million for the U.S. charity Glide Foundation.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has also auctioned off a chance to drink coffee with him at Apple headquarters on a charity website. The successful bidder can bring a companion to Apple headquarters in California for a half-hour to hour-long coffee chat with Cook. All proceeds from the auction went to the Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.
In 2010, the Maradona Global Lunch Auction was held in Beijing. A representative from a Hebei enterprise won the auction with a bid of 200,000 yuan and was able to bring six people to have dinner with Maradona for two hours. All proceeds from the auction were donated to the Chinese Red Cross Foundation for the treatment of cancer patients.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, on the other hand, auctioned off the opportunity to have lunch with him to raise money for his organization. The price of the auction was not made public, but it was widely reported that it was much lower than Buffett's "charity lunch".
Even U.S. President Barack Obama got in on the action, auctioning off a chance to have lunch with him before the election. The rules of the auction stated that supporters had to donate at least $5 to be eligible to participate, and four winners would be randomly selected to have a meal with the president.
However, at two fundraising dinners in 2012, donors paid $30,400 each to dine with President Obama, only to later find out that he did not dine with them at all and simply met with them briefly.
The idea of auctioning off time with celebrities has become quite popular over the years. While the main purpose of these auctions is to raise money for charity and fundraising, it also provides an opportunity for ordinary people to meet and interact with their favorite public figures.
With senior celebrities having a scarcity of time, the value of their time is inestimable, making these auctions a lucrative opportunity for both the celebrity and the buyer.