It's tough to overstate Apple's impact. Founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, it has since grown to be the world's biggest company by market value ($2,145,000,000 — yes, that's 2.145 trillion). That's stuff of legends, even if the company is semi-responsible for our collective addiction to smartphones; and the shortening of our attention spans, and so on and so forth.
As such, there's a big market for Apple memorabilia: sneakers custom-made for employees, old boxes, Apple T-shirts and sweatshirts, Steve Jobs's business cards and workbooks, among other things. What goes up for sale offers glimpses into Jobs's work life, and how he slowly turned Apple into so much more than just software. But rarely does Apple memorabilia afford bidders access to his personal life, because, well, he was quite private and famously simple. He wore the same black Issey Miyake turtleneck, Levi's 501 jeans and New Balance 992 sneakers every single day, at least in the public eye. Before then, he wore mostly suits.
But he wore Birkenstocks at home, a new auction ending November 11th revealed. The heavily broken-in Birkenstocks — dated as being from the '70s and '80s, when Apple was in its infancy — start at $15,000 but are estimated to fetch an upwards of $80,000, if not more, by closing.
Ew? Yes, sure. But the Birkenstocks show Jobs balanced work with time for creativity, as he called it. And that what he did wear, he really appreciated — and knew a lot about.
"He was interested in where the form comes from. He wanted to know everything about the materials and he was also interested in the technical side," Margot Fraser, who sold Jobs his first pair, said in the auction listing. Jobs was equally as fascinated by New Balance. Popular Internet lore states he might've had a hand in designing the 992.
But the 992 was work, or represented work, at least — they're what he wore when giving Apple keynotes or debuting new products. Birkenstocks were freedom.
"The sandals were part of his simple side. They were his uniform," Chrisann Brennan, Jobs's partner, said in an interview with Vogue. But his creative uniform, she clarifies. "And in Birkenstocks he didn't feel like a businessman, so he had the freedom to think creatively." (Or, to put it another way, to think different.)
Sure, it might be a little weird to want someone else's old, maybe even stinky, Birkenstocks — especially if the asking price is $200,000 — but someone will buy them, half-hoping they'll work like the Nike Blazers from Like Mike: you'll slip them on — Jobs was allegedly an extra-wide 14 — and become a genius entrepreneur inventor who changes the world. That's definitely not how it'll go, but good luck.
More realistically, these will end up in a museum or as part of a traveling exhibition. These have appeared in several exhibitions since 2016, when Mark Sheff, Jobs's former house manager, sold them to a private collector for a few thousand bucks. Fresh off stops in Germany, Italy and New York, these come with their own protective carrying case — and NFT depicting a 360-degree rendering of the sandals.