- Thomas Kaplan thanked Warren Buffett in person for buying nearly 3,500 tons of silver, he told Business Insider.
- “You did me a great favour,” the billionaire recalled telling the famed investor, as the 1997 purchase relegitimized silver as an investment and enabled his silver company to go public.
- “Glad to hear it,” Buffett replied.
- Kaplan said Buffett’s silver bet was “one of a string of just ridiculous strokes of luck,” including an introduction to George Soros and billion-dollar discoveries by his silver and energy businesses.
- Read more about Buffett’s unusual silver purchase and how it transformed Kaplan’s career.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Billionaire investor Thomas Kaplan personally thanked Warren Buffett for buying close to 3,500 tons of silver in 1997, he told Business Insider in an interview.
“I really have to thank you,” Kaplan recalled telling the Berkshire Hathaway boss at a dinner several years later, as the purchase eliminated the stigma around the metal and helped him to take his silver company public.
“You did me a great favour in my career,” he added.
“Glad to hear it,” Buffett replied in an “incredibly charming” manner, according to Kaplan.
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Restoring silver’s shine
Kaplan is the founder and chief of The Electrum Group, a fund that primarily invests in natural resources. He elaborated on why he was grateful to Buffett in our interview.
The entrepreneur was trying to list Apex Silver Mines in 1997, when the silver market was still in the doldrums. Buffett’s silver purchase “enabled us for sure to get that IPO done,” he said.
“If Warren Buffett is conferring legitimacy on an asset, it changes the dynamics of investor perceptions,” Kaplan continued. “Silver was toxic. The toxicity evaporated.”
“He made silver safe for the investment world again,” he added.
“Lightning has struck me several times”
Kaplan also described Buffett’s decision to “very conveniently and coincidentally” buy silver as “one of a string of just ridiculous strokes of luck.”
“Lightning has struck me several times,” he added. For example, he was introduced to George Soros, who invested in Apex in 1994, a year after it was founded.
Apex also discovered one of the world’s largest silver deposits in Bolivia. Moreover, Kaplan founded an energy company in Texas that made a huge gas discovery, leading to it being acquired at a multi-billion dollar valuation in 2007.
Buffett, unknowingly, played a pivotal role in Kaplan’s success.
“It’s a quirk in my career that does point to the importance of luck, and in this instance, to the importance of Warren Buffett,” he said. “I owe him one.”