Everyone wanted an iPhone when it first came out in June 2007. But when Ms Karen Green, a tattoo artist, got hers later that year as a gift, she stowed it away on a shelf, wrapped in a pair of felt pyjamas.
Then, she forgot about it, the memory of it receding as new, fancier phones were rolled out, and she moved on with her life.
On Sunday, 15 years later, that 8GB iPhone – still unopened and in its original plastic-covered box – was sold at an auction for US$63,356 (S$84,900), more than 100 times its original price.
“I didn’t want to get rid of my new phone,” Ms Green said, explaining why she never took the phone out of its box.
When she got it, she already had three phone lines with Verizon, and the iPhone would work only on AT&T.
She also thought: “It’s an iPhone. It’ll never go out of date.”
When she recently heard someone listing a first-generation iPhone on eBay for US$10,000, something clicked.
“I thought to myself, ‘Oh, my god, I think I have the original,’” she said.
Ms Green put it up for auction on Feb 2, with an opening bid of US$2,500, and got 27 offers when the bidding ended. She had expected it to sell for about US$50,000. She got so much more for something she did not even pay for.
Mr Mark Montero of LCG Auctions told BBC News: “To discover an original, first-release model from 2007, still brand new with its factory seal intact, is truly remarkable.”
Her iPhone checks all the boxes high-end collectors look for, he said – “relevance, rarity, and replaceability”.
“Only brand new, unopened and first-generation (iPhones) in mint condition are valuable,” he said. Ms Green’s story is “just icing on the cake”.
Loyal Apple enthusiasts are known to pay good money for original products. In 2022, an early Apple computer prototype from the 1970s sold for over US$677,000.
First-generation iPhones in similar pristine condition have sold before, too – one for US$35,414 in August and another for US$39,339 in October.
Ms Green told Business Insider she could have waited for the price to go even higher. But she needed the money to fund her business in New Jersey.