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Bill Gates' Hospitality on Auction Block at Microsoft

October 03, 1998| From Associated Press

SEATTLE — Microsoft Corp. employees are in a bidding war for a private tour of Chairman Bill Gates' $53.4-million mansion. The tour leads the list of items on the auction block in the company's annual employee charitable-giving campaign.

The top offer so far is $25,025. Bidding started at $300 on Sept. 21. Within three days, anonymous bids topped $12,000.

"There's a lot of respect for the man here, and not a lot of chance to spend time with him," said Emily Hine, Microsoft's giving-campaign program manager. "I think there are people waiting until the last minute, and then it will pop up. . . . I think it could go to $50,000."

Gates' estate manager will give the highest bidder and a guest a private tour of the Lake Washington mansion in suburban Medina. At the end, Gates will "personally guide you through his favorite rooms," according to the description of the tour. Refreshments will be provided.

One of the biggest draws is the home's computer system, which changes music, temperature, lighting and even digital artwork to match visitor preferences as people move from room to room.

Microsoft will match $12,000 of the winning bid and donate the total to the charity of the winner's choice. The company hopes to raise $10.4 million for various charities by the end of this month.

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