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Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, prepares to speak at the Fortune's Most Powerful Women's Summit in Washington October 13, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - Warren Buffett on Tuesday said the anonymous bidder who agreed last week at an annual charity auction to pay $3,456,789 (£2.45 million)to have lunch with him, matching the previous record high, is a woman.

"The one thing I will tell you, because we're in this crowd: It's a woman," Buffett, the billionaire chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, said at a United State of Women conference in Washington.

The winner and up to seven friends can dine with Buffett at the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in midtown Manhattan. An anonymous bidder also paid $3,456,789 to win the 2012 auction.

Proceeds go to Glide, a San Francisco charity that provides food, healthcare and other services to people who are homeless, poor or struggling with substance abuse.

Buffett has raised roughly $23.6 million for Glide in 17 auctions dating to 2000.

At least one prior winner was a woman. In 2009, Courtenay Wolfe of Canada's Salida Capital prevailed with a $1,680,300 bid.

Buffett called Glide, led by the Rev. Cecil Williams and his wife Janice Mirikitani, a "remarkable social organisation," and encouraged higher bids in 2017.

"If you'd like to buy it next year, $3.5 million is just a suggested price," he told the audience. "Plus tip, of course, for the lunch."

A webcast of Buffett's comments was available on YouTube.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York, editing by G Crosse)

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