Warren Buffett Portrait on Permanent Display at UNO

Warren Buffett Portrait on Permanent Display at UNO

Warren Buffett Portrait on Permanent Display at UNO

Posted: Wed, Aug 7, 2013

The image and likeness of one of the world's most successful investors now has a home at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO).

University officials today unveiled a painting of businessman and billionaire Warren Buffett, now on permanent display in the atrium of Mammel Hall, the new home of UNO's College of Business Administration.

The $34 million facility opened to students, faculty and staff in August at 67th and Pine Streets.

The 6-foot-by-6-foot portrait was commissioned by Buffett and created by performance artist Michael Israel outside the Qwest Center at the May 2008 Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting (

Later that year, the painting was made available for sale on eBay. The winning bidder â€" Omaha native and Minneapolis businessman John Morgan â€" paid $100,000 for the painting.

All proceeds from the November 2008 eBay auction were donated to Girls Inc., of Omaha; and today, Morgan announced the painting's donation to the University of Nebraska Foundation for display in the College of Business Administration at UNO.

The gift further complements a key campaign goal for UNO through the University of Nebraska Foundation's Campaign for Nebraska â€" creation of a new home for the College of Business Administration.

"It is fitting that the painting is adjacent to our investment science lab," said Louis Pol, College of Business Administration dean. "In that lab many of the lessons offered by Mr. Buffett are repeated as our students become more knowledgeable about how to value equities and companies as well as how to study markets."

Buffett taught investment courses for the College of Business Administration at then-Omaha University between 1952 and 1962.

"John Morgan and I both know a good investment when we see one," said Warren Buffett, CEO, Berkshire Hataway, Inc. "By purchasing the portrait from Girls Inc., John made an investment in the lives of the girls. The girls â€" like the business students at UNO â€" will reach their full potential when they learn to invest in their most important asset â€" their own life."

Morgan said purchasing the Buffett painting provided an avenue to support two organizations at the same time. "I've always admired Warren Buffett and his extraordinary accomplishments. Purchasing this portrait gave me the unique opportunity to express that appreciation while supporting two organizations I care about deeply: Girls Inc., and my alma mater," said Morgan, chairman and CEO, Winmark Corp., and a 1969 graduate of UNO. "When buying the painting I knew it had to be displayed in a location where it would be visible and appreciated. UNO's Mammel Hall provides the perfect setting. It's not only an attractive space, but a meaningful connection exists as well. Warren Buffett taught his first investment class in UNO's College of Business Administration and it's located in the city we both call home."

Roberta Wilhelm, executive director of Girls Inc. of Omaha, said that when John Morgan purchased the portrait, he made an investment in the organization's mission: inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold.

"We used the funds to provide girls with the opportunities that expanded their world, increased their own expectations for themselves and challenged them intellectually, physically and emotionally," Wilhelm said. "We used it for science fairs, pajama jams, field trips, hot meals, art supplies, fitness classes, prom dresses, graphing calculators and more. The girls' needs are great, but Mr. Morgan realizes that their potential is far greater."

Morgan currently serves on the UNO Campaign Committee for the University of Nebraska Foundation's Campaign for Nebraska He is also a Foundation trustee.  

Today Morgan serves as CEO and chairman of Winmark Corp., a Minneapolis-based company that creates, supports and finances business and has more than 850 franchised territories in North America. The company specializes in small ticket and middle market leasing, and developing franchises for retail stores that buy, sell and trade new and used merchandise. It is the parent company of Play It Again Sports®, Once Upon A Child®, Plato's Closet®, Music Go Round®, Wirth Business Credit® and Winmark Capital.

The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska's metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

The University of Nebraska Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization that has connected the dreams and passions of donors to the mission of the university for the past 75 years. In 2010, donors designated more than $136 million in gifts to scholarships, academic programs, medical research and other priorities at the university. The foundation's current $1.2 billion fundraising initiative, the Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities, concludes in 2014.