By Jasmine Maharisi – News Editor
Mammel Hall’s atrium was bustling Friday as members of the UNO and Omaha communities gathered to witness the unveiling of a 6-by-6- foot portrait of billionaire Warren Buffet.
CEO of Winmark Corporation and UNO alumnus John Morgan purchased the work on eBay.com for $100,000 and donated it to UNO. All proceeds were given to Girls, Inc.
Girls, Inc. is an organization that provides a community for girls ages 6 to 18 in which they can learn new social, physical and intellectual skills. The organization began in 1864 in Connecticut to meet the needs of working class girls from rural communities traveling in search of factory jobs. Programs are offered through a nationwide network of more than 1,000 sites and focus on topics such as literacy, self-esteem and preventing teen pregnancy.
” I’v e always admired Warren Buffett and his extraordinary accomplishments, ” Morgan said in a Nov. 12 press release. “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.
“Performance artist Michael Israel painted the portrait in 2008 outside of the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders’ conference. A video of him painting the work can be viewed on his website, michaelisrael.com.
In celebration of the unveiling, members of Girls, Inc. performed songs and played ukuleles.
“John Morgan and I both know a good investment when we see one,” Buffett said. “By purchasing the portrait from Girls, Inc., John made an investment in the lives of the girls. The girls – like the business students at UNO – will reach their full potential when they learn to invest in their most important asset – their own lives.”
Roberta Wilhelm, executive director of Girls, Inc. of Omaha, said the $100,000 went toward art supplies, science labs, graphing calculators and prom dresses.
Wilhelm said she commends Morgan for his investment and for contributing to the organization’s mission of inspiring all girls to be bold, strong and smart.
The portrait is on permanent display at the newly constructed $34 million Mammel Hall, the new home of UNO’s College of Business Administration. Buffett taught investment courses in the college between 1952 and 1962.
“When buying the painting, I knew it had to be displayed in a location where it would be visible and appreciated,” Morgan said. “UNO’s Mammel Hall provides the perfect setting. It’s not only an attractive space, but a meaningful connection exists, as well.”