Article — From the January 2010 issue

The Church of Warren Buffett

Faith and fundamentals in Omaha

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Around lunch the next day, Buffett arrived at the Regency Court Mall to play bridge. Hordes of shareholders, cameras held high in the air, pressed up against curtained barriers, spilling over into Berkshire-owned Borsheim’s Jewelry, whose sales staff offered shareholder discounts of up to 30 percent. Alice Schroeder, Buffett’s most recent biographer, stood a few steps back from the perimeter. “Look at this,” she said. “Hundreds of people. Look how excited they are just to watch this man sit and play bridge. This is the closest that most people will get to him physically.”

That night Buffett put on another public demonstration of his regularity, the eating of a steak prepared by Gorat’s Steak House. Gorat’s had laid in six thousand pounds of beef for the occasion, mostly 20-ounce T-bones priced at $29.95 and described by souvenir Stockholder’s Sunday menus as “Warren Buffett’s Favorite.” On the cover was Warren Buffett in a posture of dominion over a one-eyed monster labeled recession. Above it was the legend together, we shall overcome.

Buffett left shortly before nine. Gorat’s quickly emptied out. At one end of the dim barroom two tables of young fund managers clung together like the embers of a dying fire. They did their best to ignore the other end of the bar, where two women were trying desperately to make a scene. The women were the daughter and girlfriend of Robert Eisenberg, a Berkshire heir, the son of one of Buffett’s early Omaha investors. The daughter, Talia, in her twenties, wore a man’s ribbed undershirt; the girlfriend, Tanya, forties, a black cocktail dress. They were drunk. The heir himself was dining elsewhere.

“The Bee Gees!” Talia shouted. “They’re playing the fucking Bee Gees! Can you believe it? So fucking Omaha Nebraska,” which was where she’d grown up, before she moved to New York.

Tanya laughed like a delinquent.

“If you don’t like the music, you’re more than welcome to leave,” said the restaurant’s manager. She had been monitoring the situation from a booth nearby.

“Do you even know who we are?” Talia asked. She thrust her hand into her purse. Out came a grip of shareholder credentials.

“I don’t care,” said the manager. “You’re getting out of this restaurant. Now.”

The women strutted out to a black Mercedes-Benz. As Talia drove, she enumerated a few of her present frustrations. She hated the tacky nowhereness of Omaha. She hated the gawking shareholders who think they own it for a weekend. Most of all, she hated Gorat’s for unjustly ejecting her from the premises. “They thought I was a whore because I’m good-looking and rich!” she exclaimed. “What can I do?”

“They never see the likes of us around Omaha,” replied Tanya.

“We have more shares than all those fuckers,” Talia said.

“Don’t say that,” advised Tanya.

“I’m lighting that shit on fire,” Talia said. “I’m sending in my henchmen.”

“Get back in the other lane!” screamed Tanya. “And look—you got arrows! You got arrows, bitch!” The car made a nimble swerve.

“Where were you at the cocktail events?” Talia asked me. “We were there with all the ballers. The real deal. You didn’t go to Borsheim’s, did you? That’s where all the suckers go, with one baby B share. The big parties are up at the houses.”

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’s last article for Harper’s Magazine, “The Golden Touch,” appeared in the December 2008 issue.

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