Money Matters - Simplified

Sotheby's to auction Apple’s founding contract

Apart from the partnership agreement, the auction package includes County of Santa Clara statement documenting Wayne's withdrawal as a partner from Apple and an amendment to the original draft.

The original contract which established Apple Computer Co. as a formal business entity is the highlight of upcoming books and manuscripts auction by Sotheby's on Dec. 13 in New York.

Signed on April 1, 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, the three-page legal document is expected to bring in anywhere between $100,000 and $150,000.

“This is a foundation document in terms of financial history, social history, and technological history,” Sotheby's head of books and manuscripts, Richard Austin, told Bloomberg.

Wayne -- the original owner and partner
Ron Wayne was the original owner of the legal document. He met and befriended Steve Jobs while they worked at Atari. Also, he was the one who convinced Wozniak to join the new undertaking.

Wayne drafted the original agreement partnership setting the division of shares between Jobs, Wozniak and Wayne (45 percent, 45 percent, and 10 percent, respectively).

“I’ve never regretted pulling out. I’m as enamored by money as anyone else, but I knew that it was going to be a considerable strain … it was like having a tiger by the tail.” -- Ron Wayne

Having failed in a previous business venture, Wayne was nervous of taking further risks, so decided to pull out of the new partnership just eleven days later.

He received a total of $2,300, split up in two payments, for his 10 percent stake in the company.

The same stake in Apple would have been worth approximately $35 billion today.

When asked by Bloomberg in October 2011 if he was sorry to have sold his portion, Ron Wayne said, “I’ve never regretted pulling out. I’m as enamored by money as anyone else, but I knew that it was going to be a considerable strain … it was like having a tiger by the tail.”

Apart from the partnership agreement, the auction package includes County of Santa Clara statement documenting Wayne's withdrawal as a partner from Apple and an amendment to the original draft.

Legal documents sold and re-sold in mid-1990’s
Wayne sold the documents to a manuscript dealer at some point, who in turn re-sold them to another party in the mid-1990s, when Apple appeared to be on the brink of bankruptcy.

“It was right before Jobs rejoined Apple,” Austin said. “At the time, everyone thought that Apple was pretty much finished.”

In a bid to cash in on the recent publicity generated by Jobs untimely death and the release of his authorized biography, the party has decided to sell the legal documents at Sotheby's next month.

“With everything in the news, this seems to be the time to do it,” Austin said.