With a net worth of more than US$60 billion, Warren Buffett is truly a one-of-a-kind billionaire. Now 86, the legendary investor still lives in a modest home in Omaha, and continues to drive himself to the office every morning to manage Berkshire Hathaway, the fourth-largest public company in the world. But more surprising than his humble lifestyle and self-effacing personality are Buffett’s moral integrity and unique mind, which drove him not only to become the most successful businessman in the world, but also an unparalleled philanthropist.
With unprecedented access to his day-to-day personal life, BECOMING WARREN BUFFETT tells the improbable story of how an ambitious, numbers-obsessed boy from Nebraska became one of the richest, most-respected men in the world. The definitive documentary on Buffett, this candid portrait sheds new light on a man who has helped shape the way Americans view capitalism and, more recently, philanthropy. Told primarily in Buffett’s own words, the film features never-before-released home videos, family photographs, archival footage and interviews with family and friends. This HBO Original Documentary Film premieres Sunday, August 13 at 10pm on HBO SIGNATURE and will also stream on HBO GO.
Tracing Warren Buffett’s ascent from first-time investor to business maven, the documentary delves into the highs and lows of his career and personal life, from becoming a father of three and the world’s richest businessman, to weathering the Salomon Brothers treasury bond trading scandal, which threatened his sterling reputation, and the loss of his wife and first love, Susie Thompson Buffett.
“I like numbers,” Buffet tells a group of Omaha Central High School students. “It started before I can remember.” A voracious reader, the seven-year-old read the library book “One Thousand Ways to Make $1000,” and made extra cash selling Coca-Cola, gum and newspapers as a youth.His father, a salesman who survived the Depression, was elected to Congress when Warren was 12, moving the family to Washington. Displaced and unhappy, Warren lost interest in academics and faltered, despite his love of learning and competitive spirit.
After attending the University of Nebraska at his father’s insistence, he interviewed for Harvard Business School and was turned down. The rejection was propitious: Buffett discovered that two of his financial idols, Ben Graham and David Dodd, taught at Columbia, and after writing them a letter, was accepted there. From Graham he learned the “two rules of investing”: “Rule #1: Never lose money. Rule #2: Never forget Rule #1.”
Buffett, along with partner Charlie Munger, would build his fortune at Berkshire Hathaway, a struggling textile company that he turned into a behemoth holding corporation with stakes in Coke, Heinz, Geico and other blue-chip companies.
Buffett’s exemplary moral principles and passion are at the heart of his success. “He truly loves to do what he does,” says former Fortune editor Carol Loomis. After the death of Susie, whom Buffett credits with raising their children, as well as making him appreciate civil rights and philanthropy, he emerged from a period of mourning in 2006 to announce that most of his fortune would be given to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, an unprecedented act of philanthropy.
Though his accomplishments attest to his excellence, Buffett contends that he “won the ovarian lottery” by being born who he was, when he was and where he was. “For over 60 years, I’ve been able to tap dance to work, doing what I love doing,” he tells the Omaha Central High School students. “I just feel very, very lucky.”
Kunhardt Films’ HBO credits include the Emmy®-nominated “Nixon by Nixon: In His Own Words,” the Emmy®-nominated “Gloria: In Her Own Words,” the Emmy®-winning “Teddy: In His Own Words” and this year’s Emmy®-winning “Jim: The James Foley Story.”
A co-production of HBO and Kunhardt Films, BECOMING WARREN BUFFETT is directed by Peter Kunhardt and produced by Teddy Kunhardt and George Kunhardt. For HBO: senior producer Jacqueline Glover; executive producer Sheila Nevins.