When Karen Green started a new job in 2007, friends gifted her a recently released first-generation Apple iPhone. But Green already had a new phone, and so she put the box on a shelf and wrapped it in a pair of pajamas for extra protection. Sixteen years on, her foresight and collector instincts have paid off to the tune of $63,356.
The still-boxed phone was lot number two in LCG Auctions’s Winter Premier Auction on February 19, and after drawing 27 bids, set a record for the most paid for an original iPhone—more than 100 times its original retail price of $599 (or about $700 today).
Boasting a three-and-a-half-inch screen, a two-megapixel camera, access to the internet via Safari, and eight gigabytes of memory, the original iPhone’s specs are rather lackluster by today’s standards. At the time, however, Apple’s decision to combine an iPod, a cell phone, and internet device was revolutionary. Plus, it looked like the future, or “doggone gorgeous,” as Steve Jobs put it when introducing it at the Macworld conference in San Francisco.
“The original first-release iPhone in factory-sealed condition is widely regarded as a blue-chip asset amongst high-end collectors,” LCG Auctions stated. “It quickly became Apple’s most successful product” and “forever changed the smartphone industry.”
The iPhone sale is the second LCG Auctions has staged in the past six months. In October 2022, the Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based auction house sold another unopened first-generation iPhone for $39,339, a figure that surprised even LCG Auctions founder Mark Montero. “We had no idea of the impact it would have,” he said at the time.
The October sale caught the attention of Green, who had been mulling over selling her technological antique since 2019, when she appeared on the “Treasure Hunt Tuesday” segment of the daytime television show . The show’s antiques appraiser, Dr. Lori Verderame, estimated Green’s iPhone would fetch $5,000. (So much for the experts!)
Ahead of the iPhone auction, Green said she would have held onto her pristine plastic-wrapped iPhone, perhaps for another decade, but needed the money to support her fledgling cosmetic tattoo business.
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