Warren Buffett is the world's best-known investor, second-richest man, and second-biggest philanthropist, after his friend Bill Gates. He has some remarkably progressive and independent ideas about money and perhaps about other things too, judging from the coverage of his second marriage last week.
From the Sept. 1, 2006, New York Times:
How Does Warren Buffett Get Married? Frugally, It Turns Out
By JEFF BAILEY and ERIC DASH
...The marriage of Warren E. Buffett, the Omaha billionaire, to his longtime companion, Astrid Menks, had the financial world all abuzz yesterday.
Mr. Buffett and Ms. Menks formalized a relationship of more than 20 years in a brief civil ceremony.... The new Mrs. Buffett, 60, has been the constant companion to the 76-year-old financier, even as he remained married to his first wife, Susan T. Buffett, who died in 2004.
The first Mrs. Buffett, who had lived apart from her husband since the late 1970's, knew and approved of the relationship with Ms. Menks.
"She has been with my father all these years for all the right reasons," Mr. Buffett's daughter, Susie Buffett, said in a telephone interview. "I'm so thankful. She loves him and takes care of him. If Warren didn't have a cent, she'd be with him."
...When together and out socially, Mr. Buffett, the older, wise-cracking businessman, seems proud to be with the former Ms. Menks, who is known for putting others at ease.
...His first wife, Susan, left the family home in Omaha in the late 1970's, after raising the couple's three children, and moved to San Francisco.
And she introduced a friend, Ms. Menks, to her husband and encouraged Ms. Menks to take care of Mr. Buffett.
"Astrid and my mother were very close — really loved each other," [daughter] Susie Buffett said.
In an interview with Charlie Rose shortly before her death, the first Mrs. Buffett said of Ms. Menks's relationship with her husband: "She takes great care of him, and he appreciates it and I appreciate it. She's a wonderful person."
..."They had a relationship that was so unusual, so fine, and so sophisticated — all three of those people," said Cedric Hartman, an Omaha furniture maker and friend to the Buffetts for many years.
...After she and Mr. Buffett became a couple, friends often received cards signed, "Warren, Susie and Astrid," according to "Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist" (Random House, 1995), a biography by Roger Lowenstein.
Read the whole article, with photo.
From The Age in Australia:
By Andrew Clark
September 3, 2006
...Mr Buffett's Latvian-born bride, Astrid Menks, is 60 to her husband's 76. The pair have been living together since the late 1970s. Nothing unusual about that, except that Mr Buffett had an apparently close and loving marriage to another woman, Susan, until her death in 2004. The trio even sent out Christmas cards signed "Warren, Susie and Astrid".
...After a quarter of a century of marriage, Susan opted in 1977 to move to San Francisco to pursue her career partly, friends say, because she felt smothered by the attention her increasingly famous husband was receiving.
Their separation was only partial. The couple continued to see each other regularly.
Susan asked several friends in Omaha to look after her husband including Ms Menks, who began discreetly delivering him home-made soup and moved in with him a year later.
The two women proceeded to "share" the billionaire. As his wealth grew, Susan Buffett took on the task of managing her husband's charitable foundation. Mr Buffett spent a good deal of time with his wife — they often appeared at functions together.
Ms Menks would pack him off to see her, apparently without a trace of jealousy, and would sometimes appear beside her smiling, talking and even holding hands.
In his book The Making of an American Capitalist, the author Roger Lowenstein wrote: "From the day she moved in, Astrid knew that Buffett did not envision remarrying, and that he was still attached to his wife. She made a home for him, yet she would see him off with neatly laundered shirts when he left town to be with Susie."
...It is a sign of the esteem with which Mr Buffett is held in America that his relationships have generally been politely ignored by the media.
Read the whole article.
Though Warren and Susie remained close, attending social functions as a couple, Astrid became his constant companion. Remarkably, the trio remained friends would send gifts to acquaintances with an attach card signed from "Warren, Susie and Astrid."
"This most unlikely trio developed a rhythm," wrote Roger Lowenstein in his best-selling biography of the billionaire investor. "Buffett's friends...became accustomed to his domestic triangle. Buffett did make a point of telling friends that Astrid had Susie's blessing."
Susie went on to forge a career in San Francisco as a cabaret singer and abortion activist, and continued to sit on the Berkshire board as a major shareholder in the company.
Read the whole article.
One wonders: Have they heard the word "polyamory"? Do they know similar folks, or do they consider that their arrangement was private and unique? And do they have any idea that there's a movement?
P. S.: If you've just landed on this page and are interested in learning more about polyamory, put the word into Google or Wikipedia and off you go. Or better yet, start at these excellent entry points:
New Scientist magazine article
Franklin Veaux's poly site
The alt.polyamory home page