Charlie Munger, the Esteemed Partner of Warren Buffett, Passes Away at 99
On 28 Nov, Charlie Munger, the billionaire stockpicker and right-hand man of Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway, passed away at the age of 99, narrowly missing his centennial by a few weeks.
At the time of his passing, Munger wore several hats – he was not only a real estate lawyer but also a member of Costco’s board of directors.
Moreover, he possessed a knack for architecture, albeit without a license, and was a dedicated philanthropist, having generously donated tens of millions to institutions like the University of Michigan.
For those less familiar with these names, it’s worth noting their extraordinary wealth.
Warren Buffett, the current chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, is not only one of the world’s most renowned fundamental investors but also ranks as the seventh wealthiest individual globally, boasting a net worth of $118 billion.
Remarkably, he achieved billionaire status at the age of 56, while earning a modest $50,000 salary from Berkshire Hathaway, an American multinational conglomerate holding company.
Now, let’s turn our attention to Charlie Munger.
Born in 1924, Munger was an American businessman, investor, and philanthropist.
His family had a legal background, with his father being a lawyer, and his grandfather serving as a district court judge and state representative – evidently, a tradition of legal acumen ran in their blood.
At the time of his demise, Munger’s estimated net worth stood at $2.6 billion, securing him the 1182nd position on Forbes’ list of the world’s wealthiest individuals.
His net worth might have been substantially higher if not for his extensive philanthropic efforts.
Over the course of his career, Munger gave away the majority of his shares. In 1996, he owned 18,829 shares, which would be valued at nearly $10.3 billion today.
How Did The Pair Meet?
So, how did this dynamic duo first cross paths?
Their initial encounter took place in 1959 at an Omaha dinner party.
At that time, Munger was a practicing lawyer in Southern California, while Buffett operated an investment partnership in Omaha.
Their meeting sparked an instant connection, and they maintained their friendship through frequent phone calls and lengthy letters, as documented in Munger’s biography, “Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger.”
In 1978, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger formalised their partnership, culminating in their joint efforts to elevate Berkshire Hathaway into one of the world’s largest companies.
Berkshire Hathaway, the holding company they nurtured for nearly half a century, boasted a market capitalisation of $784.94 billion, ranking as the ninth most valuable public company worldwide.
FYI, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates had collaborated with the duo for years and joined Berkshire’s board in 2004.
Their personal rapport was equally profound, with Buffett expressing that Munger had made him a better person than he would have otherwise been.
Munger: Modesty Is The Key
Munger, characteristically modest, often downplayed his contributions to Berkshire’s extraordinary success and preferred to remain in the background.
Nevertheless, his role in this success story considerably enriched him.
Importantly, Munger’s wealth did not solely accumulate after meeting Buffett.
Before joining Berkshire, Munger chaired Wesco Financial, a company that initially began as a savings and loan institution but later evolved into an investment firm with a substantial portfolio of blue-chip companies.
Munger had an intimate knowledge of these firms, which included Goldman Sachs, Coca-Cola, US Bank, Kraft, P&G, and other industry stalwarts.
Interestingly, Munger’s career had a humble beginning.
One of his early jobs was as a clerk at Buffett & Son, a high-end Omaha grocery store founded by his grandfather, Ernest. Munger earned a meager $2 for a grueling 12-hour shift.
As noted by Buffett biographer Alice Schroeder, when Munger’s wife asked him why he spent so much time conversing with Buffett, Munger wittily responded that Buffett was no ordinary human being.
Buffett cherished his enduring bond with Munger, revealing that they never had an argument in the entire time we’ve known each other, for over 60 years.
Given their profound connection, Buffett found it challenging to come to terms with Munger’s passing.
“Berkshire Hathaway could not have been built to its present status without Charlie’s inspiration, wisdom, and participation,” Buffett acknowledged in Berkshire’s press release.
The loss of Charlie Munger was felt deeply on Wall Street, as he had an extraordinary run at Berkshire Hathaway that left an indelible mark.
Whitney Tilson, an investor and authority on both Buffett and Munger, remarked on CNN that Munger’s impact went far beyond the investing world.
People discovered him, thinking that they would learn about ways to make money, but they got so much more than just tips to make money.
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