Friday, July 19, 2024

Charles T. Munger, who abandoned a successful career in law to become Warren E. Buffett’s partner and maxim-spouting alter-ego, as they revamped a failing New England textile company into the highly prosperous investment firm Berkshire Hathaway, passed away on Tuesday in Santa Barbara, Calif. He was 99. His death was confirmed by Berkshire Hathaway. He had a home in Los Angeles. Although overshadowed by Mr. Buffett, who enjoyed the limelight, Mr. Munger, whose fortune was estimated to be $2.6 billion this year, wielded more influence at Berkshire than his title suggested. Mr. Buffett lauded him as the inventor of Berkshire Hathaway’s investment approach and described their partnership as an architect and general contractor relationship. Their alliance, which spanned over 50 years, led to the creation of one of the most successful conglomerates in history. They were the faces of Berkshire’s annual meeting in Omaha, known as the Woodstock of Capitalism. They would speak to a large audience of rapt Berkshire shareholders.

Mr. Munger had hundreds of thousands of employees by 2022 at Berkshire, whose assets include notable companies such as Geico and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, as well as stakes in Coca-Cola, American Express, IBM, Wells Fargo, and other corporate giants. He was also known for his witty, common-sense maxims which became known as Mungerisms. He was the moral compass of the company, advising Mr. Buffett on personnel issues along with investment strategy. He graduated from Harvard Law School and became a successful lawyer, eventually founding his law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson. He met Warren Buffett in 1959. Despite his successful law career and prior financial difficulties, he eventually began investing in stocks, businesses, and real estate and found great success in this area, working side by side with Buffett.

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