It's not every day that auctioneers hope to fetch six-figure sums auctioning a piece of paper. But Sotheby's is not selling just another piece of business memorabilia. They are selling a slice of Apple.
It's the contract where Mr Ronald Wayne, the little-known partner of the tech giant, sold his share in the company for US$800 (S$1,020), leaving it to two other partners - Mr Steve Jobs and Mr Steve Wozniak, Daily Mail reported.
Mr Wayne, now 77, then owned 10 per cent of the fledgling company which was in serious financial trouble. The shares would be worth a cool US$35 billion today.
In the recent biography of Mr Jobs written by Walter Isaacson, Mr Wayne is described as a "father figure" to Mr Jobs.
Mr Wayne met Mr Jobs while working for video games maker Atari, and Mr Jobs looked up to the older man.
Sotheby's said: "The 1976 document, which once belonged to Ronald G Wayne, one of Apple's founders along with Steven P Jobs and Stephen G Wozniak, is the first chapter in the story of one of America's most important companies."
It said the document, though full of "self-conscious legal jargon", was "relatively simple" and spelt out who held the shares - with Mr Jobs and Mr Wozniak holding 45 per cent each.
The auction house expects the legal papers to sell for US$100,000 to US$150,000, CNN reported.
A Sotheby's spokesman emphasised that Mr Wayne had not sold the documents directly to the auction house.
Bloomberg quoted Mr Richard Austin, head of manuscripts at Sotheby's in New York, as saying that the consigner bought the documents in the mid-1990s from a manuscript dealer who had acquired them from Mr Wayne.
Said Mr Austin: "It was right before Jobs rejoined Apple. At the time, everyone thought that Apple was pretty much finished."
The auction will be held on Dec 13 in New York. People can also bid on the documents simultaneously online.
The other documents included in the auction are a second founding agreement, in which Mr Jobs and Mr Wozniak outlined their plans for the company that would help bring about the personal computer revolution and create the iPod, iPhone and, most recently, the iPad.
This article was first published on Dec 1, 2011.
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