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Apple's founding contract to be auctioned off

The legal document that marked Apple's beginnings goes on sale next month, and is expected to bring in a princely sum. The three-page contract is signed by Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, and Ronald Wayne.

The original draft agreement that founded Apple Inc., then Apple Computer in 1976.
The documents being auctioned include the original draft agreement that founded Apple Inc., then Apple Computer, in 1976.

The paper contract that marked the legal beginnings of Apple goes on sale next month.

Bloomberg reported today that Sotheby's is selling the document at its Fine Books and Manuscripts auction on December 13. The item is estimated to sell for anywhere between $100,000 and $150,000, Sotheby's said in a release (PDF) announcing the sale.

The three-page document is signed by Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, and Ronald Wayne. Wayne famously decided to walk away from his 10 percent share of the company in return for $2,300 split up between two payments. Before that happened though, he offered to draft the original letter, which Sotheby's notes is filled with "legal jargon."

The document, dated April 1, 1976, changed hands twice since their original signing, Bloomberg says. A manuscript dealer purchased it from Wayne, then sold it in the mid-1990s to the owner who's put the document up for auction. Along with the original contract, the lot being sold includes an amendment noting Wayne's withdrawal as a partner in the venture (seen in the photo above).

The sale follows the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in early October, who stepped down as the company's CEO in August. During Jobs' second stint at Apple, following his return after being ousted in 1985, the company went on to become immensely profitable. Apple surpassed Exxon Mobil as the most valuable company by market capitalization earlier this year, a spot that Exxon has taken back following a decline in Apple's stock price during the past two months.

Along with the contract, Sotheby's is also selling three of Andy Warhol's self-published books, and letters from George Washington and Vincent Van Gogh as part of its auction.

The signatures of Wozniak, Jobs and Wayne in the 1976 contract.
The signatures of Wozniak, Jobs, and Wayne in the 1976 contract Sotheby's