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Berkshire Hathaway’s Charlie Munger just gave San Marino’s The Huntington Library a very big gift

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By Josh Funk

Investor Charlie Munger, who’s been Warren Buffett’s right-hand man for more than five decades, has made a $40 million gift to The Huntington Library and Art Museum, which he’s supported in the past.

Munger gave 77 Class A Berkshire Hathaway shares to the San Marino museum, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

At Thursday’s closing price of $523,545.06 a share, that made the gift worth more than $40.3 million.

A decade ago, Munger, who lived in Pasadena, gave the Huntington museum nearly $33 million worth of Berkshire stock to help pay for a new education and visitors center. Huntington spokeswoman Susan Turner-Lowe said this latest donation will be used to build more than 30 residences for visiting scholars to use while they spend time at the museum doing research.

Charlie Munger (Associated Press)
Charlie Munger (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, FileAssociated Press)

Turner-Lowe said scholars often spend a school year studying at the Huntington and the expensive rental market in Los Angeles has made that difficult to afford. She said this is “a long-time dream that is in the process of being fulfilled in a major way.”

Once a billionaire, Munger’s fortune never rivaled his best friend Buffett’s. But Munger lost his billionaire status long ago as he steadily gave away his fortune, and roughly $1 billion of his stock went into a charitable trust in 2010 after his wife died.

After his latest donation, Munger still holds 4,033 Class A Berkshire shares. But back in 2000 he held 15,911 shares, which would be worth more than $8.3 billion today if he’d hung onto it all.

Munger, who is known for his quick wit and acerbic manner, will turn 100 in January. He often quips that “I have nothing more to add” after some of Buffett’s more long winded answers at Berkshire’s legendary shareholder meetings, but he’ll also cut right to the heart of an issue in his own answers. For instance, he’s called cryptocurrencies “evil” and “stupid because they’re likely to go to zero” and are far too “useful to kidnappers and extortionists and so forth.”

The conglomerate that Munger helped Buffett build owns dozens of companies, including BNSF railroad, Geico insurance and several major utilities along with well-known brands like See’s Candy and Dairy Queen along with numerous manufacturing firms. Although Berkshire is based in Omaha, Nebraska, where Buffett lives, Munger has long lived in southern California, so much of his charitable giving has been focused on the West Coast.

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