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Apple's founding contract sells for $1.35 million

Three-page document that launched the tech giant goes for much more than its pre-auction estimate of $100,000 to $150,000.

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

The papers that legally launched the tech giant were sold today at auction for $1.35 million, significantly higher than presale estimates.

The three-page document marking the founding of Apple was expected to fetch between $100,000 and $150,000 at Sotheby's Fine Books and Manuscripts auction. Bidding began at $70,000 and ended a few minutes later with a telephone bid of $1.35 million (see video below). Buyer's premium brought the total cost to $1,594,500.

The winning bidder was Eduardo Cisneros, chief executive officer of Cisneros, according to Sotheby's (PDF).

The Apple document, dated April 1, 1976, was signed by Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, and Ronald Wayne. It divided ownership of the new company among the three, giving Jobs and Wozniak each 45 percent and Wayne 10 percent.

However, Wayne famously decided 11 days later to walk away from his 10 percent share of the company in return for $2,300 split up between two payments. His 10 percent of the company would be worth more than $36 billion today. Apple has the highest value of any tech company in the world with a market cap of about $361 billion.

A manuscript dealer purchased the document from Wayne and then sold it in the mid-1990s to the owner who put the document up for auction. Along with the original contract, the lot included the amendment noting Wayne's withdrawal as a partner in the venture (seen in the photo above).