Apple's founding documents have sold for ten times their estimated price at a Sotheby's auction, fetching $1.59 million.
The contract establishing the corporation, along with further paperwork removing one of the three original founders, were expected to go for around $150,000, but were snapped up by Eduardo Cisneros, CEO of Cisneros Corporation, for ten times that price after fierce bidding.
"The founding contract of the Apple Corporation is the first chapter in the story of one of America’s most important companies," said Richard Austin, head of the books department at Sotheby's New York, in a canned statement.
"Collectors recognised the importance of this piece of technological, corporate and social history, sending the price to $1.59 million - many multiples of the $100/150,000 estimate."
The original Apple partnership agreement was signed by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne on April 1, 1976. That document gave the two Steves 45 per cent shares in the company and awarded Wayne ten per cent.
Just ten days later, Wayne filed a statement of withdrawal from the company; he also signed an amendment to the April 1 agreement in which the Steves agreed to pay him $800 "in consideration of the relinquishment of Wayne's former percentage of ownership". He later got a further $1,500 when Apple got some funding.
Wayne had previously started a company that failed, making him wary of taking on the risks of the Apple partnership. His ten per cent stake in the company would today be worth around $2 billion.
These documents, along with the founding contract, stayed with Wayne until he sold them to a private collector in 1994.
Cisneros tweeted after the auction that he was "very happy to own a piece of American (World) history". ®