First generation iPhone sells for nearly $40,000 at auction

What happened now? Over the weekend, someone paid almost $40,000 for a smartphone. No, it was not gilded or set with diamonds. It didn’t even have decent specs – a two-megapixel camera, less than 32GB of storage, and a 3.5-inch display. So what made it so valuable? It was an unopened first generation iPhone.

Business Insider reported that someone paid $39,339.60 for an iPhone on Sunday. Salesman listed First generation phone in original packaging at LCG Auctions on September 30th.

“Collectors and investors will have a hard time finding a better example,” the listing reads. “Relevance and rarity are the formula for the success of this hot collectible.”

Bidding for a vintage 2007 Apple device started at $2,500. The auction house estimates the phone will sell for at least $30,000. Trading reached approximately $10,446 just a few days before the close and stalled. However, last-minute buyers competed fiercely as the deadline approached, increasing the winning bid to over $39,000 in just 13 bids.

A 15 year old phone probably has a dead battery (perhaps swollen and unusable), but that shouldn’t matter as the collector who bought it is unlikely to open it to find out. The “originally” packaged device was an 8 GB model that sold for about $600 with a two-year AT&T contract in 2007 – about $860 today. Thus, adjusted for inflation, the buyer paid more than 45 times the original cost.

Why would anyone pay so much for a device that they won’t even use and that pales in functionality and power compared to today’s counterparts?

Collectors are hard to understand. Someone bought an Apple-1 computer signed by Woz earlier this year for $480,000. Some visitors to the auction probably assumed that years later they would be able to get more for this item. Others simply have a deep desire to own a piece of history. Both the Apple-1 and the iPhone 1 certainly meet these requirements.

When Steve Jobs unveiled it on January 9, 2007 at the MacWorld Expo, there was no other phone like it. It became Apple’s best-selling product and defined the future of all subsequent smartphones.

“[The iPhone is] one of the most important and widespread inventions of our lives,” the LCG description reads.[It] was named “Invention of the Year” by Time magazine in 2007.

It’s unknown how many first generation iPhones are still out in the wild, let alone those that are still factory sealed, but it’s safe to say they’re rare. Chances are, the buyer is holding a valuable piece of history that will be worth even more in the coming years.

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