Steve Jobs NFT auction withdrawn as provenance thrown into doubt

Steve Jobs Application
Steve Jobs Application (Image credit: RR Auction)

What you need to know

  • A Steve Jobs NFT and application was withdrawn from auction on Thursday.
  • RR Auction was hosting the lot, which was expected to fetch $300,000.
  • A discovery by an interested client has cast doubt as to whether the application was submitted by Jobs to Atari, or whether it was in fact for a job at Reed College in 1973.

An earlier version of this story has been updated with information provided by RR Auction as to the sale of this item, and new information which casts doubt on whether it is an application submitted to Atari by Jobs, as previously thought.

A signed Steve Jobs job application that was purportedly submitted to Atari in 1973 and an accompanying NFT was withdrawn from auction on Thursday after it was discovered that it might not be what we originally thought.

Sold as part of RR Auction's event 'The Steve Jobs Revolution: Engelbart, Atari, and Apple' the 'Steve Jobs Signed Job Application and NFT' was purportedly an Atari job application questionnaire filled out and signed by Jobs in 1973. From the listing:

Incredible Atari job application questionnaire filled out and signed by Steve Jobs, one page, 8.5 x 11, annotated 1973 in another hand. Jobs fills out the document with his name, "Steven jobs"; address, "reed college"; phone, "none"; and major, "english lit." In the middle section, he writes "yes" in response to 'Driver's License?' and "possible, but not probable," in reply to 'Access to transportation?' With regard to his skills, next to 'Computer' and 'Calculator,' he writes, "yes (design, tech)." At the bottom, he describes his 'Special Abilities' as "electronics tech or design engineer. digital.-from Bay near Hewitt-Packard [sic]." In very good condition, with intersecting folds, overall creasing, light staining, and some old clear tape to the top edge.

RR Auction has confirmed to iMore that while the authenticity of the piece (that it was an application filled out and signed by Jobs) is not in question, whether the application was submitted to Atari as first thought is now up in the air. RR Auction VP Bobby Livingston said that an interested client discovered that Jobs, who joined Atari in 1974, also worked part-time at Reed College's psych lab as a repair technician in 1973. As such, it is now unclear as to whether this application was indeed submitted to Atari, or if it was an earlier application for Reed College.

The lot was originally listed with a letter of authenticity signed by Atari's Allan Alcorn, confirming that it was indeed the document submitted by Jobs to Atari. However, the new information that has come to light was enough that RR Auction withdrew the sale so it can establish which job the application was submitted for. Livingston said that either way, both are "historic documents."

The news might not be so welcome to the buyer who paid $343,000 for the item in July of 2021, and a further $27,000 for an NFT version of the document, on the basis that it was the Atari application. The lot was described then as an "extremely rare collectible", first sold in 2017 with Bonhams. The auction at the time received extensive press coverage, and was heralded as "a unique piece of history from the exact moment that a dreamer changed the world." The new information could indicate that it was instead an application submitted by Jobs for part-time work at Reed's psychology lab, where Livingston said Jobs spent his time repairing equipment for experiments with rats and pigeons.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9