Christie's in New York City Apple Auctions
Apple I sold for $365,000 today..
Ron Wayne's Memorabilia sold for $25,000.
This was a different type of sale from the previous Bonhamns one. The Bonhams unit was a near perfect condition unit, but with little documentation.
The Ricketts board that just sold was working and original, but in fair condition. It had excellent documentation. It landed on the low side of the estimates I think because of the condition. One of the things about auctions like this is that there could be someone willing and waiting to spend a million dollars on a board, but they want perfect condition and fully documented. If we didn't have the near perfect condition Bonhams unit, who knows what this board would have brought in because the Bonhams unit could have make someone decide they want one like that and not a better documented but lower condition board.
Unfortunately the press would not report that so it may indicate to them the bubble burst. I don't think it did yet.
I personally went though the condition decision a few years back before the Apple-1's went for these super high prices. I had the opportunity to buy a board in private sale that was not in very good condition. The price was right, but it had carbon from a fire all over the proto area, major cut traces on the supply section in the back. I elected to let it go. The board did sell for double what I was going to pay at an auction. But I'm glad I let it go. It would have bugged the heck out of me looking at a damaged board. So for me the decision was right.
Here is my take
A few years ago, several of us in the hobby used to think that condition had little to do with sale price, it had more to do with number of interested buyers aware of the sale, timing of the sale, presentation, etc. I'm tending to believe that that still might be the case, at least to some extent. Clearly a damaged unit has less potential value than a pristine unit, but there are a lot more factors to consider than condition and what's included in the bundle.
A few years ago, I was chatting with an Apple 1 owner and he indicated that a certain unit was one he would have liked to have, but the price was too high for him. I didn't think that the particular unit he liked was in especially nice condition, though it certainly was a little more interesting than the unit he currently owned.
I'd say that there are a lot of unique reasons and motivations for owning an Apple 1, and that can drive desirability in different directions for different people. And then you have the chance of a bidding war driving up the price on any given sale. I think we can continue to expect the selling prices to be very volatile for some time to come.
Mike. I agree with you. The prices will be volatile for a while and we have not seen the "holy grail" of Apple-1 sales, a perfect condition, well documented with a really good story. That one with the right timing would be very scary priced. I also think that if any of the three prototype boards showed up regardless of condition, they would trump them all.
In the end it's what the collector is interested in. What attracted the Henry Ford Museum was the condition of the board a 9 out of 10 which they paid 900k for, the lack of documentation didn't bother them. The 670k board sold in Germany was a 7 out of 10 but had great documentation. This recent Christies board, with great documentation and a book written about it was only a 5 out of 10 in condition for a working board. That did have to affect the price now that there have been shown to be other boards out there. A few years back, many apple-1 were thought lost, but through your great work on the registry and these high priced public sales, more Apple-1 are publicly known so some collectors can be picky if they have the money.