White Gold: How Much Money Was Dropped At Umberto Bombana’s Annual White Truffle Auction?
Not even a pandemic can keep truffle lovers from placing their bids on the prized white Alba truffle, and one of the most high profile auctions of the white gold on this side of the world is that of Umberto Bombana’s, the truffle king of Otto e Mezzo 8 1/2 Bombana. The auction has taken place for the last 20 years (the 2020 edition however, was purely virtual), with Bombana hosting event event since 2011, raising astronomical amounts of money for charity.
The latest edition hosted on Sunday November 14, 2021, may not have broken any records—that last happened in 2019, when a one-kilo specimen went under the hammer and sold for 120,000 euros (back then, HK$1.035 million), making it the highest winning bid in the last 12 years of the auction—but raised a considerable sum nonetheless. Naturally, the largest white truffle was won by a Hong Kong diner with deep pockets; in the past 20 years of the auction, there were only three occasions where the prize truffle was not secured by someone in the city, and the 2021 edition was no exception.
This time, the mystery guest put their paddle up for the 830gram white Alba truffle, securing it for a handsome sum of 103,000 euros (HK$918,000)—paying 4 euros more per gram than the record-breaking specimen in 2019. In much of the world, the going price for white truffle has doubled—and even quadrupled—in 2021 due to dwindling supply and climate change (a scorching hot summer in northern Italy has been the contributing factor), rather than logics issues brought on by the pandemic. It’s what Bloomberg has described as “The Great White Truffle Crisis of 2021”.
In total, the white truffle auction raised HK$3.56 million for Mother’s Choice, a local non-profit dedicated to servicing the needs of underprivileged families, young girls facing pregnancy, and children in need of a permanent home.