MACAU – A Macau casino mogul bid $330,000 for a pair of white truffles, including one weighing about two pounds, matching the record price he paid at the same event three years ago for one of the giant fungi.
Billionaire Stanley Ho made the winning bid Saturday at a charity auction through representatives of his company, Sociedade de Jogos de Macau.
The pair included a huge truffle dug up in the central Tuscany region weighing about two pounds (900 grams) as well as one found in Molise weighing about 14 ounces (400 grams).
The auction was staged at Ho's Grand Lisboa hotel in the former Portuguese colony of Macau, with bidders participating simultaneously in Rome and London through a satellite link.
In 2007, Ho paid $330,000 for a white truffle unearthed in Tuscany weighing about 3.3 pounds (1.497 kilograms).
Ho is best known for his casinos in Macau, a gambling enclave in southern China near Hong Kong.
Sixteen lots of white truffles from different areas of Italy went on the block, raising a total of $373,500 for various charities in Macau, Britain and Italy.
White truffles are the most expensive and highly prized of Italy's truffles, and among the most famous are those from Alba in the northern Piedmont region, where pigs or dogs are used to sniff them out during the September-December hunting season.
During the truffle season in Italy, restaurants offer pasta and other dishes containing the edible fungus at sky-high prices.
Slivers of the delicacy, with its strong aroma, are prized for flavoring pasta sauces and rice dishes.