Updated Nov 28, 2023 - Economy

Berkshire Hathaway adviser Charlie Munger dies at 99

Berkshire Hathaway vice chair Charlie Munger attends the annual Berkshire shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 3, 2019. Photo: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images

Investment giant Charlie Munger, known as second-in-command to Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway, has died. He was 99.

The big picture: Berkshire Hathaway, where Munger was vice chairman, said in a statement that "he peacefully died this morning at a California hospital."

  • "Berkshire Hathaway could not have been built to its present status without Charlie's inspiration, wisdom and participation," Buffett said in a statement.

Context: Munger grew up a few hundred feet from Buffett's family grocery store, where the Oracle of Omaha worked as a kid.

  • But the two didn't meet until 1959, introduced by a doctor, by which point Munger had decamped to Los Angeles.

Buffett often credited Munger with keeping him grounded.

  • "If you've attended our annual meetings, you know Charlie has a wide-ranging brilliance, a prodigious memory and some firm opinions," Buffett said in a 2014 letter to shareholders.
  • "I'm not exactly wishy-washy myself, and we sometimes don't agree," Buffett added. "In 56 years, however, we've never had an argument."

Zoom in: Munger had a passion for architecture, a hatred of cryptocurrency and a love of capitalism.

  • He made his first fortune designing and building apartments near LA. More recently, he designed dorms for his alma maters, Stanford University and the University of Michigan.
  • "Charlie's most important architectural feat was the design of today's Berkshire. The blueprint he gave me was simple: Forget what you know about buying fair businesses at wonderful prices; instead, buy wonderful businesses at fair prices," Buffett wrote.

A one-time lawyer, Munger stopped practicing law in 1965, according to CNN, and became a close adviser to Buffett.

  • Together, they grew Berkshire into an investment behemoth, its stock having gained 20% annually from 1965 through 2021, according to Bloomberg.

Of note: In his later years, Munger often told interviewers about the dangers of envy, preaching the wisdom of contentment.

  • "The world is not driven by greed. It's driven by envy," Munger said in 2022, according to CNBC.
  • "I have conquered envy in my own life. I don't envy anybody," he added. "I don't give a damn what someone else has. But other people are driven crazy by it."

This story has been updated with more details throughout.

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