Warren Buffett Up Close



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Old Greenwich resident Alice Schroeder spent years chronicling the life of Warren Buffett. Here, we take a look at the man and his extraordinary career and history. For the full article on Alice’s experience with Buffett, see the “The Adventures of Alice” in the February issue of Greenwich magazine.

Greenwich and Warren Buffett

When Warren Buffett speaks, Greenwich listens. It was not always that way, however.

According to The Snowball, one of Warren Buffett's ancestors, the son of John Buffett who was the first to travel to the New World, stopped one day in a Connecticut town to preach the Gospel. "But it is doubtful that the outcasts, scofflaws, and unbelievers of Greenwich repented on hearing his words, since history records that lightning promptly struck him down."

Warren Buffett would become a preacher of a different kind, one who eventually could count many Greenwichites among his flock. But not all, of course. There was Charley Ellis, an early champion of indexing whose noteworthy tome Winning The Loser's Game is mentioned in The Snowball at length as a prevailing font of financial philosophy Buffett would buck.

More at variance with Buffett's ideals was another, more reckless Greenwich-based investing operation, Long-Term Capital Management. The Snowball biographer Alice Schroeder spotlights LTCM's attempt in 1998 at getting Buffett to buy it when its dice-rolling derivatives trading put the company billions in debt. Buffett passed.

"Derivatives are like sex," Buffett is quoted in The Snowball as saying. "It's not who we're sleeping with, it's who they're sleeping with that's the problem."

But Buffett's strongest Greenwich connection may well be Schroeder, who has lived here since 1996 and stayed through the dissolution of her first marriage in 2004.

"The question is, when I got divorced, why didn't I leave?" she says. "The easiest thing to do from a cost-of-living standpoint is to move someplace else. But I'd grown to be very fond of Greenwich, albeit it's become a little crowded and different, because of the proximity to New York City and the country atmosphere."

Her husband, David Moyer, sees a strong connection between Greenwich and The Snowball. "Alice told me she bought the house to write this book," he says. "She is someone inspired by nature, who loves to be around it. The Snowball is a better book for where she wrote it."

A Woman's Touch?

One aspect of Warren Buffett's life that gets plenty of notice in The Snowball is his relationship with women.

Early on, the book recounts, he was told by his father-in-law that he could do no wrong surrounding himself with women, because they were loyal and hard workers. "I think women understand men better than men understand women," Buffett is quoted as saying. "I'll eat asparagus before I give up women."

Buffett's first wife, Susie, forms a kind of emotional touchstone through the pages of the book, influencing him to give up more of his wealth to charity. She even found him another woman when she left him to live in San Francisco.

There are many women in the pages of The Snowball, some of them rumored to have been lovers of Buffett, like Katherine Graham, but many more of them of the loyal platonic helpmate variety. Author Alice Schroeder dubs them "Daisy Maes", after the Li'l Abner cartoon character Buffett was fond of as a boy.

These Daisy Maes could get pretty territorial. Alice writes of one who attended a shareholders' meeting at Berkshire Hathaway wearing a necklace that clinked as she walked — because it was laden with charms representing each annual Berkshire Hathaway report she helped Buffett put together.

As with many hypotheticals, its utterly worthless but somewhat tempting to wonder if The Snowball could have been as probing a book if written by a man. "Warren has always had a rapport with women," Alice says. "I think he gravitated toward me because he felt more comfortable with me because I'm female. He has a lot of men friends, too, but he has a different dynamic with them."

Alice even sees a gender dynamic at work when it comes to The Snowball's reception: "Every woman reviewer has liked the book."

At least one woman involved in The Snowball sees it differently. Ann Harris, the book's editor, thinks the whole matter "a non-issue. It never occurred to me," she says. "Alice is about as tough-minded a writer I ever encountered in terms of dealing with material, bringing it out whatever the cost, freeing herself of whatever biases she may have. She's both tough-minded and extra intuitive."

 

Greenwich Agenda

  • Exhibit Ira BARKOFF

    2014.10.11
     @ Canfin Gallery

    “The beauty of the physical world becomes a metaphor for the capacity of the spirit to reveal itself". Ira Barkoff Evocation of...

  • Nigh Season: New Paintings By David Konigsberg

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM  Public Invited   NIGH...

  • Undulate: Paintings By Julie Gross and Margaret Neill

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY II Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM Public Invited...

  • Parties at the JCC Center

    2014.09.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • SPLURGE Matches Scarf Donations for Cancer Patients

    2014.10.01
     @ SPLURGE

    SPLURGE and the Cancer Institute at Greenwich Hospital are partnering to bring comfort and encouragement to cancer patients.  From October...

  • Flinn Gallery Art Opening

    2014.10.30
     @ Flinn Gallery 2nd floor

    FLINN GALLERY Opening Reception 'IN FOCUS' Thursday October 30, 6 - 8pm Seven artists share their visions - Carolyn Conrad,...

  • IMAGINE CANDY- SWEET TASTINGS!!!

    2014.10.24
     @ Imagine Candy

    Imagine Candy located in Scarsdale Village- Winner of 2014 Best West of Westchester by Westchester Magazine- holds a Belgian Chocolate and Candy...

  • Flower Power

    2014.10.08
     @ SM Home Gallery

    SM Home Gallery show featuring two Greenwich based artists: Margaret Bragg and Penny Putnam. The art show runs thorough November 22nd....

  • Harvest Fair and Gift Show

    2014.11.01
     @ Second Congregational Church

    Event Will Include Hay Mazes, Games, Crafts, Food, Holiday Shopping The community is invited to a Harvest Fair and Gift Show on Saturday, Nov....

  • New Fitness Class: SalsaTone

    2014.11.01
     @ Latin Moves Dance Studio

    Starting November 1st ~ Every Saturday morning 10 to 11 AM Instructor: Melissa Lopez Start your weekend off right with this exciting cardio...

  • Lynne Scalo Design Opening

    2014.11.05

    Please join Lynne Scalo, Greenwich Magazine and athome Magazine to celebrate the Greenwich showroom opening of Lynne Scalo Design Cocktails...

  • Breast Cancer Alliance Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show

    2014.11.06
     @ Hyatt Regency Greenwich

    Breast Cancer Alliance to Host Branching Out, Coming Together, Aspiring to a Cure 19th Annual Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show: November 6,...

  • Free Screening of Documentary ' Children of the Inquisition'

    2014.11.06
     @ Bush-Holley House

    Join filmmaker Joseph Lovett as he presents his documentary film and multi-platform project of personal exploration and...

  • P.A.L.S. 2nd Annual Soarin' Soiree~ November 7, 2014

    2014.11.07
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    You are invited to join our State Senator, L. Scott Frantz and our First Selectman, Peter J. Tesei, for an awe-inspiring evening to benefit Patient...

  • John Hardy Event

    2014.11.08
     @ Bloomingdale's

    John Hardy One of a kind. One at a time. Each by hand. Bloomingdale's is inviting YOU to meet the head designer Guy Bedarida as he presents...

  • Olivine Gabbro Opening

    2014.11.08

    Olivine Gabbro invites you to join them for their Opening Party! DJ | Cocktails | H'Orderves | Gift Bags Made to Measure Beautifully...

  • Meet Joshua Safran, Author of "Free Spirit: Growing Up On the Road and Off the Grid"

    2014.11.11
     @ YWCA Greenwich

    Meet the author of this powerful memoir. Joshua Safran is an author, attorney, occasional rabbi, and nationally recognized advocate for...

  • Markham Roberts: Decorating the Way I See It

    2014.11.13
     @ Belle Haven Club

    Join us as Interior Designer Markham Roberts shares coveted design insights, key to creating the perfect home. The program will include...


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