Ron Wayne's document cache

December 22nd, 2011 3:43 PM
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Earlier this month, Apple's founding contact was auctioned from the estate of Wade Saadi by Sotheby's. Its estimated value was in the range of $100,000 to $150,000 USD.

It went for $1,350,500 — almost ten times more than expected. For comparison, an actual Apple-1 computer went for $213,600, or 15% as much as the contract.

It's hard to see this sale as yet another unfortunate transaction in which Apple co-founder Ron Wayne was involved. He sold this same contract in 1994 ago for $500 (although some reports indicate it was several thousand dollars); if he'd held onto it, he could've sold it for 2,701 times more than what he got for it. Of course, that's nothing compared to the $800 for which he sold his 10% share of Apple stock in 1976. Today, it'd be worth $35 billion, or 43,750,000 times more.

But there may be hope yet. That contract was one of several documents that Wayne has kept in his possession all these years. Brian Heater of Engadget recently rifled through Wayne's archives:

The documents, stashed in a USPS mailer kept by the door of his office, were a veritable treasure trove of information, including pages of pages of plans and pencils drawings of an Apple I enclosure Jobs asked Wayne to build — his creation was ultimately rejected by Apple and lost to history as the company gained steam.

Also stored in the envelope were a facsimile of the contract signed by Wayne, Woz and Jobs, which recently sold on auction for more than $1 million — in fact, it was Wayne's original copy that hit the auction block. He had parted ways with it for far, far less some time ago. Wayne's Statement of Withdrawal is in the pile as well — the document effectively ended his term with the company, filed for a $5 fee. Also inside are an Apple I operation manual, with the company's original logo, designed by Wayne himself and an Apple II order form.

Will one of these documents end up on the auction block next? Will Wayne's brushes with fortune ever bear fruit? Or will he forever earn nothing more than a footnote in Apple's history?

(Hat tip to Jon Brooks and Bloomberg, both via Mike Maginnis)

Apple founding contract for sale

December 5th, 2011 3:27 PM
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A bit more than a year after an Apple-1 sold at an Christie's of London auction for $213,600, another irreplaceable piece of Apple history will be up for bid. Next week, you'll have the opportunity to bid on the contract that established Apple as a legitimate business entity.

Sotheby's "Fine Books & Manuscripts" auction (N08811) occurs on Tuesday, December 13, 2011, at 10:00 AM EST in New York and consists of personal and autographed items belonging to the likes of Cole Porter, Joseph Heller, and Giacomo. Lot #241 of 353, listed as being the "property of various owners", has the title "APPLE COMPUTER CONTRACT AND DISSOLUTION OF CONTRACT SIGNED BY JOBS, WOZNIAK AND WAYNE (3 DOCUMENTS)" and is described as follows:

Two typed documents signed by "Stephen G. Wozniak", "steven p. jobs", "Ronald G.. Wayne": Apple Computer Company Partnership Agreement, dated 1April 1976, 3 pages (8 ½ x 11 in; 216 x 279 mm) with small staple holes and crease in upper left corners; With: Amendment dated 12 April 1976, 1 page, with erasure and minor corrections to text; And with: Registrant's Copy of County of Santa Clara Statement of Withdrawal signed by "Ronald G Wayne," 1 page.

This document founded the company in 1976, but it was invalidated and succeeded a year later when Apple was incorporated. The estimated value is between $100,000 and $150,000 USD, with bids being accepted both in-person and online.

Apple's founding contract (zoomed in)

These John Hancocks can be yours — if the price is right.

What I find to be the most striking aspect of this auction is not the future bidding that will occur, but the trail this piece of paper must've travelled to arrive at this auction. How and why did the document leave the possession of Woz, Jobs, and Wayne? Was it sold, stolen, or misplaced? Have the current owner(s) approach Apple Inc. to attempt a direct sale? Is there any legal basis for this contract to be in the possession of a third party and not returned to its original owners? IANAL and do not have the answers to these questions. But I look forward to more information being revealed as its sale approaches and more publicity is garnered.

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