Posted on May 02 2020
How does an autograph collector part with a favorite item? Dan Caldwell of Billionaire Collectibles sets the price high enough so that letting go is not so painful.
He has what is likely the only Steve Jobs autograph currently for sale, a signed work-anniversary certificate for an Apple employee. The $77,000 asking price on eBay is how much someone “will have to pay to peel it out of my hands.”
When Jobs was alive, the Apple founder was prickly about autograph requests. He rarely obliged. When a Jobs signature comes up for auction, it is likely to go for a sum north of $20,000.
In December, a 3.5-inch floppy disk sold at auction for $84,115. The year before, an employment application filled out by a young Jobs sold for $174,000.
This Steve Jobs autograph won’t come cheap
Dealers say a quality Jobs signature, usually penned without capitalizing the S or J, fetches more than autographs from dead presidents, rock stars and athletes. Caldwell owns 15 Abraham Lincoln autographs, two George Washingtons and just one Steve Jobs signature.
Caldwell, who runs Billionaire Collectibles with his business partner and wife, Ildiko Ferenczi, told Cult of Mac they are generally in on all the Jobs autographs that surface at auction. Only twice did Caldwell and Ferenczi have winning bids. They previously owned an autographed copy of Time magazine that Jobs signed with a ballpoint pen.
The work-anniversary certificate up for auction now bears a higher-quality signature, thanks to the bold, felt-tipped pen Jobs used.
“I don’t want to sell this one cheap,” Caldwell said of the eBay listing. “That’s the price. [Jobs’ autograph] is hard to come by and you never know if you will get another one.”
An Apple employee certificate, signed by Steve Jobs
The 10-year anniversary certificate belonged to Suzanne Lindbergh, who spent 25 years with Apple, including 19 as director of Global Buzz Marketing. Anytime a movie or television show featured an Apple product, Lindbergh negotiated the deal. She oversaw the use and placement of Apple products in various media as a strategy to boost brand awareness.
The Lindbergh certificate is rare because more recent Apple employee-appreciation items were signed by autopen, Caldwell said.
“When [Jobs] first came back to Apple, he personally signed these as a way of getting the company back together and get employees excited,” he said. “As things got crazier and more and more people started to get [anniversary certificates], it became an autopen signature.”
Caldwell will give the eventual eBay buyer a choice of keeping the certificate as a piece of history or having it framed with a picture and quote in a manner that isolates the autograph from the rest of the document.
Caldwell co-founded Tapout, an athletic clothing company popular with the mixed martial arts community. Ferenczi is a model, actress, and entrepreneur.
BY DAVID PIERINI •