Charlie Munger – often known as “Warren Buffett’s right-hand man” – has passed away peacefully at a hospital in California.
The vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, and a massively vociferous critic of cryptocurrency, would have turned 100 on January 1.
Dubbed the ‘Oracle of Pasadena’ for his remarkable business foresight, and a nod to his birthplace, he began his working life earning 20 cents an hour for Warren Buffett’s grandfather amid the Great Depression. He went on to become Buffett’s deputy at Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
While their union will long echo throughout history as one of the most successful business partnerships, the pair were vehemently anti-crypto.
“Sometimes I call it crypto ‘crappo’, sometimes I call it ‘crypto s—’,” he said, pulling no punches earlier this year.
“It’s just ridiculous that anybody would buy this stuff – it’s totally absolutely crazy, stupid gambling.
“I think the people who oppose my position are idiots, so I don’t think there is a rational argument against my position.”
Despite his views on digital assets, the financial genius of Munger and Buffett would be difficult to deny.
Munger was known for his gruff style, not suffering fools gladly, and very often unable to keep an occasionally vicious tongue behind his teeth.
He labelled Bitcoin as ‘rat poison’, yet, in the same breath, labelled bankers as “out-of-control heroin addicts”.
He was also not averse to self-depreciation.
When talking about the success he and Warren Buffett had enjoyed with Berkshire Hathaway, he once said: “I think part of the popularity of Berkshire Hathaway is that we look like people who have found a trick – it’s not brilliance, it’s just avoiding stupidity.”
The subject of AI allowed the Californian to rail against a digital future even further.
“I am personally skeptical of some of the hype that has gone into artificial intelligence,” he told Berkshire Hathaway’s 2023 annual meeting.
“I think old-fashioned intelligence works pretty well!”
Munger leaves six children and two stepchildren. His wife Nancy passed away in 2010.