A three-page contract that established Apple Computer Co. sold for $1.59 million at Sotheby’s in New York today, soaring past the presale estimate of $100,000 to $150,000.
The bidding started at $70,000 in a half-empty room attended by about 20 people and almost as many Sotheby’s staffers manning the phones. Six telephone and online bidders competed for the lot, which finally went to Eduardo Cisneros, chief executive officer of Cisneros Corp., according to Sotheby’s.
The contract, signed on April 1, 1976, by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, was initially owned by Wayne, who met Jobs while working at Atari Inc. Wozniak, a friend of Jobs, worked at Hewlett-Packard Co. Jobs enlisted Wayne to persuade Wozniak to join Apple. His success in doing so earned Wayne a 10 percent share in the new company.
Eleven days after signing the contract, Wayne withdrew as a partner. The move is documented by a County of Santa Clara, California, statement and an amendment to the contract, both of which were included in the Sotheby’s lot. Wayne received $800 for relinquishing his 10 percent ownership of Apple, according to the document. He subsequently received an additional payment of $1,500, according to Sotheby’s.
Based on Apple’s market capitalization today, Wayne’s 10 percent stake would be valued at more than $36 billion.
Jobs died at 56 on Oct. 5.
In an Oct. 7 interview with Bloomberg, Wayne, 77, called Wozniak and Jobs “intellectual giants,” but “also felt it was going to be something of a roller coaster,” adding, “If I’d stayed with them, I was going to wind up the richest man in the cemetery.”