Apple’s founding contract expected to bring $150,000 at auction

The signed contract that established what would become the world’s most valuable tech company is one of the highlights of an upcoming auction, and is estimated to sell for at least $100,000.

It was revealed on Monday that the document which founded Apple Computer Company in 1976, will be sold by Sotheby’s in an upcoming books and manuscripts auction, reports Bloomberg.

The original three-page draft is signed by co-founders Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, and is the third most-valuable lot being sold in the December auction.

“This is a foundation document in terms of financial history, social history and technological history,” said Richard Austin, head of books and manuscripts at Sotheby’s in New York.

Wayne, who was the original owner of the contract, met Jobs while working at Atari Inc. and was later promised a 10 percent stake if he could persuade Wozniak to join Apple. The three founders drafted the official paperwork on April 1, 1976, effectively establishing the fledgling computer company that would turn into today’s tech heavyweight.

On April 12, however, Wayne withdrew as partner, receiving $800 for his share of the company. Sotheby’s notes that he subsequently received another payment of $1500, though by the end of 2010 his original stake would have been worth an estimated $2.6 billion.

A manuscript dealer, who acquired the founding draft from Wayne, sold the documents to the auction house in the mid-1990’s.

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

Jobs, whose closely guarded personal life was recently exposed in a biography by Walter Isaacson, was seen by many as the driving force behind Apple’s dramatic turnaround in becoming one of the largest companies in the world.

The tech guru’s untimely death in October generated an enormous amount of press, which is part of the reason Sotheby’s is selling the documents.

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

Included with the original contract is a statement by the County of Santa Clara noting Wayne’s withdrawal from Apple as well as an amendment to the original draft.

The auction will take place on Dec. 13 in New York.