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Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger: Inside the 60-Year Friendship


This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger’s friendship goes back 60 years.

99-year-old Munger, the investing legend who led Berkshire Hathaway as vice chairman alongside Buffett, died on Tuesday in a California hospital.

“Berkshire Hathaway could not have been built to its present status without Charlie’s inspiration, wisdom and participation,” Buffett said in a short statement about his friend’s death.

The two friends first met in 1959 at a diner, but had worked at the same grocery store for Buffett’s grandfather as teenagers.

“I knew after I met Charlie, after a few minutes in the restaurant, I knew that this guy’s going to be in my life forever,” Buffett told CNBC in 2021. “We were gonna have fun together, we were gonna make money together, we were gonna get ideas from each other. We were both going to behave better than if we didn’t know each other.”

Read more to see how the two men built their careers together.

Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger worked together for 45 years at Buffett’s holding company, Berkshire Hathaway.

warren buffet charlie munger

Buffett, left, and Munger, right, at the company’s annual Omaha meeting last year. REUTERS/Rick Wilking via BI

Together, the two achieved incredible success and respect in the business world.

Both billionaires grew up in Omaha, Nebraska.

Omaha Nebraska

Shutterstock Berkshire Hathaway is also headquartered in Omaha. via BI

Buffett has been called the “Oracle of Omaha.” He started investing early, buying his first stock when he was 11 years old and accruing a small fortune from business ventures by the time he was a teenager. His pursuits included operating a successful pinball machine business in local barbershops, delivering newspapers, and washing cars.

After attending Columbia’s School of Business, Buffett returned to Omaha, then moved back to New York to work for his mentor, Benjamin Graham.

columbia university

The library at Columbia University in New York. meunierd/Shutterstock via BI

When Graham closed his firm in 1956, Buffett moved back home to Omaha and started Buffett Partnership Ltd. This quickly turned to seven partnerships, which led him to become a millionaire by age 32.

He merged these partnerships in 1962 and invested in a textile manufacturing firm called Berkshire Hathaway.

Berkshire Hathaway

BloombergTV via BI

In the late 60s, he pivoted the company from textiles to insurance. At the age of 93, Buffett still leads the company today.

Buffett would eventually join forces with Charlie Munger, commonly referred to as his “right-hand man.”

charlie munger and warren buffett

Eric Francis/Getty Images via BI

The pair were introduced by a mutual contact in 1959 in Omaha, where they dined with their wives at Johnny’s Cafe.

Along with enjoying each other’s sense of humor, the men learned they both worked for Buffett’s grandfather at his grocery store as teenagers. Though the two worked at the same store, they had never crossed paths, as Munger was seven years Buffett’s senior.

Both men have recalled their first interaction fondly.

Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger

Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger Getty Images via BI

“About five minutes into it, Charlie was sort of rolling on the floor laughing at his own jokes, which is exactly the same thing I did,” Buffett, 90, told CNBC in 2019. “I thought, ‘I’m not going to find another guy like this.’ And we just hit it off.”

Meanwhile, Munger said the pair “got along fine,” according to CNBC.

“What I like about Warren is the irreverence. We don’t have automatic reverence for the pompous heads of all civilization,” Munger said.

A lawyer by trade and an architect on the side, Charlie Munger began working for Berkshire Hathaway in the late 1970s.

charlie munger

Previously, Munger excelled at Harvard Law School and even co-founded his own law firm — Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP — which still exists today.

Buffett convinced Munger to leave the practice as he felt it did not utilize his full talents in the early 1960s.

“It took me a long time to wise up that [Buffett] had a better way of making a living than I did,” Munger said in 2021 regarding the decision to follow Buffett’s advice. “But he finally convinced me that I was wasting my time.”

Over a decade later, Buffett convinced Munger to leave his second company, an investment practice called Wheeler, Munger & Co.

warren buffet charlie munger

Buffett and Munger with fellow investors Peter and Paul Hilal in 1998. FrankTursetta/Wikimedia Commons via BI

In 1978, he became Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, where the two had worked side-by-side.

At the time of his death, Munger had a net worth of about $2.5 billion, according to Bloomberg.

After almost half a century of joined partnership, the two men have often appeared as the faces of Berkshire Hathaway, adding a personal element to the holdings company.

warren buffet charlie munger

Kraft Heinz company is one of Berkshire Hathaway’s companies. REUTERS/Rick Wilking via BI

The pair’s faces are often used by their subsidiary companies, such as Heinz and Coca-Cola.

In 60 years of friendship, Buffet claims they’d never fought.

warren buffet charlie munger

REUTERS/Rick Wilking via BI

Buffett told CNBC in 2019 that he “always learn something” from the time he spends with Munger.

Buffett also praised Munger in his 2022 letter to shareholders.

Charlie Munger, left, and Warren Buffett, right

Nati Harnik/AP via BI

“Charlie and I think pretty much alike. But what it takes me a page to explain, he sums up in a sentence,” Buffett wrote.

The pair appeared to share a lighthearted friendship.

“I never have a phone call with Charlie without learning something. And,
while he makes me think, he also makes me laugh,” Buffet wrote in the letter.

Munger has spoken highly of Buffett and even stepped in to defend him at times.

charlie munger

Lacy O’Toole/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images via Business Insider.

Earlier this month, Munger defended his friend against a report alleging Buffett sometimes traded stock in his person account before his company traded the same stocks.

“I don’t think there’s the slightest chance that Warren Buffett is doing something that is deeply evil to make money for himself. He cares more about what happens to Berkshire than he cares what happens to his own money. He gave all his own money away. He doesn’t even have it anymore,” Munger said at the time.

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