SAN FRANCISCO — What gave birth to the Apple iPhone?
It could well have been the balky Motorola flip phone that came with the BMW Z8 that Apple cofounder Steve Jobs bought new in 2000.
That’s according to RM Sotheby’s, the auction house that will be selling Jobs’ silver-over-black roadster at its upcoming “Icons” event in New York on Dec. 6.
The no-reserve price estimate: between $300,000 and $400,000. Is there a premium because it was owned by a tech legend? You better believe it. New the Z8 cost $128,000, and today most used models go for between $170,000 and $250,000.
The Z8 is still considered one of BMW’s most striking automotive designs, based as it was on the iconic ’50s 507 designed by Raymond Loewy. But while the Z8’s swooping sheetmetal clearly seduced Jobs, its standard-issue flip phone was something “he was known to have hated,” according to RM Sotheby’s.
Although Jobs changed cars often and wasn’t known as a keen car enthusiast or collector — RM Sotheby’s contends that he was steered toward this purchase by known car geek and fellow techie, Oracle founder Larry Ellison — he did keep this car, which was registered in his name, until 2003.
At that point, his Apple team was hard at work on what would become the iPhone, which launched in 2007. Jobs passed away in 2011.
“Not only was the Z8 the halo car for an iconic brand, but it caught the eye of the most iconic and influential entrepreneur of our time,” RM Sotheby’s car specialist Don Rose said in a statement. “Jobs’ legacy is all around us, with over one billion iPhones sold to date. However, he only owned one Z8, and this is that car.”
The auction house says the Jobs Z8 was sold to its current owner and sold a year later to another tech executive. But the second owner immediately had regrets, and bought it back. While Jobs was low key about his personal life, the second owner of this Z8 has no such qualms: his plate reads “JOBS Z8.”
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