• Warren Buffett married Susan Thompson in 1952.
• She ultimately left Warren to pursue a singing career, but they remained amicably married until her death in 2004.
• Susan also introduced her husband to Astrid Menks, who became his companion. Buffett and Menks married in 2006.
For much of his life, investment guru Warren Buffett has had a less-than-conventional marriage.
While he remained married to his first wife, Susan, from 1952 till her death in 2004, he lived with Astrid Menks. Menks and Buffett didn’t tie the knot until 2006, two years after Susan died.
But family members said the unusual arrangement worked for all those involved. According to the Daily Mail, the trio would even send out Christmas cards together — signed Warren, Susan, and Astrid.
“Unconventional is not a bad thing,” Buffett’s daughter, Susie Buffett, told the New York Times. “More people should have unconventional marriages.”
Buffett’s connection to his first wife, Susan, goes back to long before they were even born.
Susan’s grandfather once ran a campaign for Republican United States Representative Howard Buffett, Warren’s grandfather. It apparently didn’t go well. Their daughter, Susie Buffett, told Business Insider that it was “the only time my grandpa Buffett lost.”
Before he met Susan, Warren busied himself trying to win the heart of a woman named Betty Gallagher in 1949. She happened to be dating a ukulele player, so Buffett took up the instrument too.
Betty wasn’t swayed. But Buffett’s hobby — which he continues to showcase at parties and meetings — paid off in the long run.
The next year, Buffett met Susan Thompson. She was the room mate of Buffett’s sister, Roberta, at Northwestern University. Like Betty, she was also already seeing someone else.
Buffett formed a friendship with her father Bill, a professor and mandolin player who knew his parents. They would jam out together in the Thompson residence, giving Buffett the opportunity to call on Susan.
He continued to visit the Thompsons, even after he left to go to business school at Columbia University. Eventually, Buffett’s musical wooing paid off. Susan and Warren were married in 1952.
The couple had three children together. Susie, the eldest, is a philanthropist. Howard, the middle child, is a businessman and politician who was recently sworn in as sheriff of Macon County, Illinois. Peter, the youngest, is a musician.
According to a Time article, the couple got along well in many regards, but their relationship was strained by Buffett’s intense work ethic.
After Berkshire Hathaway bought a stake in The Washington Post, publisher Katherine Graham and Buffett struck up a flirtatious relationship. They would jaunt off to Martha’s Vineyard together, and Graham even had a habit of throwing her keys to the investor during charity events and parties. Susan was reportedly furious and began an affair with a tennis instructor.
The couple began living separately in 1977, when Susan left for California to pursue a singing career. Buffett was reportedly devastated by her departure.
“It was definitely 95% my fault … I just wasn’t attuned enough to her, and she’d always been perfectly attuned to me,” he said, according to the New York Daily News. “She kept me together for a lot of years … It shouldn’t have happened.”
Buffett’s children worried that their father would be able to get along without their mother. “I was concerned about him being able to function in the normal world,” Susie Buffett said.
Then, the following year, Susan introduced her husband to restaurant hostess and Latvian immigrant Astrid Menks. They had become friends when Susan began singing at the restaurant. Astrid quickly moved in and became Buffett’s companion.
The three remained close and essentially functioned as a trio. “Astrid and my mother were very close — really loved each other,” Susie Buffett told The New York Times. According to Time, Buffett would often say, “Susie put me together and Astrid keeps me together.”
After a battle with cancer, Susan passed away from a stroke in 2004. She and Warren were visiting friends in Cody, Wyoming at the time.
Buffett and Astrid married in 2006, on his 76th birthday. The wedding was a modest event followed by a reception at the Bonefish Grill, a casual seafood chain.
According to his daughter Susie, Buffett had been thinking about marrying Astrid for some time after his first wife’s death. “He’s been talking about this for a while,” she told The New York Times. “It’s something he wanted to do.”