Unopened, first-gen iPhone fetches over $190,000 at latest auction

Save your iPhones! They are rapidly turning into collector's items you could hand down as heirlooms.
Ameya Paleja
Steve Jobs Unveils Apple iPhone At MacWorld Expo
Steve Jobs Unveils Apple iPhone At MacWorld Expo

David Paul Morris / Getty Images  

An unopened 4GB variant of the first-generation iPhone has set a new record by fetching $190,372.80 at a recently concluded auction. It has been referred to as the "Holy Grail" by iPhone collectors and was reflected in the 28 bids that took the auction price from $10,000 to $190,000.

Apple products have always been attractive items at auction houses, especially if they have a link with former CEO Steve Jobs. Back in 2014, an Apple-1 computer, one of the first ever personal computers built, fetched a whopping $905,000 at an auction.

While that price was paid to make the computer a part of the Henry Ford Museum, the recent records for first-generation iPhones are being set by private purchasers making a beeline for collecting the iconic pieces.

The unopened iPhone

Introduced in 2007 by Steve Jobs, the iPhone changed the world o cell phones forever. Apple continued to improve its phone offerings year after year. But more than a decade and a half later, it is the first-generation iPhones that are commanding a price far greater than even the highest-performing latest smartphone.

Interesting Engineering has regularly reported on how unopened pieces of first-generation iPhones are being bought for exorbitantly higher prices than their original sale price. The increased awareness about these auctions is bringing even rarer items to the marketplace, with collectors rushing to outbid each other to snap them up.

More than six million first-generation iPhones have been sold, and most of them were opened and used after purchase. It is the rare unopened ones that have become the desire of collectors and can fetch top money if they remain in factory packaging.

The $190,000 iPhone

Last month, we reported how the 4GB iPhone was not a people's favorite when it was released. Buyers picked the 8GB variant by paying a little more money, and Apple discontinued production of the phone shortly thereafter.

Unopened, first-gen iPhone fetches over $190,000 at latest auction
The 4GB iPhone that broke all auction records

One such rare piece of the 4GB iPhone remained with one of the members of Apple's engineering team, and the auction house expected it to breach the $100,000 price ceiling when it was included in the lots last month.

The auction began at $10,000 and only managed a few bids in the opening days to take the price to a little above $14,000. As the auction drew to a close, the price soared to $41,000. The last day of the auction saw multiple competing bids, which not only crossed the $100,000 expected price but went much further.

The final bid received was $158,644. This did not include the Buyers' premium, which is administrative costs and commissions that auction houses usually add to the winning bid amount and are paid for by the buyer.

Put together, a winning bid for the 4GB iPhone would set the buyer back by $190,372.80, nearly 400 times the original price that Apple demanded for the phone back in 2007.

With Apple products garnering so much attention in just two decades post their release, it makes sense to save your iPhones and not make them part of some buy-back offer for a few tens of dollars. Pass it down as a heirloom, and maybe a century later you could make your grandchildren really rich, that's if they hold on to the device until the timing is right.

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