Monday, July 7, 2008

The Everyday Billionaire

Warren Buffett's partner, Charlie Munger, who has a net worth in the billions, frequents downtown Los Angeles. He has office space downtown at a law firm where he is a partner. A friend tells me he also hangs out at the California Club, which is also downtown, about a five block walk from his office. I have seen him walking from his office to the Club many times. I truly get the sense that as he passes through the semi-crowded streets, without a bodyguard, I am the only person who knows who he is. No one turns, no one looks at him. (In contrast, I have seen Donald Trump walk from his building on Fifth Avenue, everyone stops and looks.)

According to my friend, when Munger is at the California Club, he sits in a chair and reads one newspaper after another after another.

I have seen him sitting and eating breakfast at the downtown McDonald's, reading The Wall Street Journal.

Just last week, he passed by me and I introduced myself. He is in his mid-80's, but was as sharp as a tack. Interestingly, newspaper in hand, he again had no bodyguard and his clothes would leave you to believe he probably maxed out at 500k net worth, if that. He had on a red plaid shirt with thick orange and brown stripes. His suit jacket didn't match the suit pants he was wearing.

If you didn't know who he was, you would probably take him for a well off farmer, coming into town to get a problem with his car registration straightened out.