On the eve of the presidential inauguration, all eyes were on another businessman — multi-billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the central figure in HBO’s upcoming documentary “Becoming Warren Buffett,” which held its premiere on Thursday evening at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art.
“[Buffett’s] legacy is still yet to be determined — whether that be as the great investor or as the great philanthropist,” said director Peter Kunhardt. “He’s reached the top of the mountain. There’s no one like him.”
Produced by Kunhardt’s sons, Teddy and George Kunhardt, the feature-length doc follows Buffett’s life from a math-obsessed paperboy in Omaha, Neb., to the famed Berkshire Hathaway CEO and one of the world’s wealthiest people, with an estimated net worth just shy of $72 billion.
“Everyone wants to get into Warren and ask, ‘How do you make a billion dollars?’ We want to know what makes you tick, what makes you the man you are today,” said George Kunhardt. Teddy Kunhardt added, “We always had the theme of the man behind the money.”
The film also delves into Buffett’s love story with late wife Susan Buffett, who passed away of oral cancer in 2004, and influenced the investor’s transition from a Republican to a Democrat.
“[Susan] really brought him a heart,” Teddy Kunhardt said. “As he says in the film, if it wasn’t for her, he wouldn’t be as successful in business as he is.”
Though Buffett was undoubtedly the star of the red carpet, conversations revolved around another businessman who was about to celebrate a different momentous event.
“The film didn’t peg to come out during the inauguration. It has nothing to do with that,” George Kunhardt said. “But I think it’s a very positive thing to reinforce these values Warren believes in — that all lives are equal, everyone has importance.”
When asked about President Donald Trump’s controversial cabinet picks, Buffett stated the American public should “overwhelmingly” support the politician’s decisions. Though he would “feel that way no matter who is president.”
“I really think a CEO, what I am, should have the ability to pick the people to help you run things. If they fail, then it’s your fault, you gotta get somebody new. Maybe you change the cabinet,” Buffett said.
As for what his hopes for Trump’s presidency, Buffett spoke of his support of raising the national minimum wage.
“I’m interested in seeing people who haven’t participated in our incredible prosperity,” he said. “If they work 40 hours a week, they should have decent funds.”
In terms of his own wealth, Buffett suggested he would rather be remembered for his philanthropic work, providing vaccines and education for those in need, than his income.
“The money I have is a ridiculous amount. It has no utility on me,” he said. “It can do wonders for other people. It can’t do anything for me. When they bury me, they won’t bury me with any money.”
“Becoming Warren Buffett” premieres Jan. 30 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.