By Ross Forman
Jeff Rosenberg was on the hunt for an autograph from Steve Jobs for two years, ever since the untimely death on Oct. 5, 2011, of the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Apple Inc.
“I like autographs of famous people,” said Rosenberg, the president and CEO of Tristar Productions Inc. and Field of Dreams. “An autograph from Steve Jobs was one that I just had to own.”
But finding an authentic signature from Jobs proved to be a challenge.
“In the sports autograph world, there often is authentication for a signature, or we buy from trusted sources for authenticity. But for a long time I couldn’t find anything authenticated from Jobs.” That, or Rosenberg was leery of those he spotted that were not authenticated.
Rosenberg finally landed the elusive Jobs signature in early December. He purchased a rare “Steven Jobs” signature found on a partnership agreement from Aug. 17, 1978, between Jobs and his original mentor, Robert Friedland, for a place of business located at “Rt 2, Box 472, McMinnville, Oregon.”
The eight-page document includes provisions for the purpose of the business. “The partnership shall engage in the business of investments, including particularly but not being limited to real estate investments, and in such other business of a similar nature or related thereto as shall be agreed upon by the partners,” the document states.
It is signed on page seven in blue ballpoint by Jobs and Friedland. The document is still stapled in its original legal folder.
Friedland, widely known as the original mentor of Jobs, attended Reed College with Jobs and was the class president. Friedland ran the apple commune where Jobs frequently hung out during this time period, and it has been widely reported that this is the place where Jobs came up with the name “Apple” for his legendary company. The two friends were both visionaries, but they ended up making their marks in different fields, as Friedland is a billionaire on the Forbes list who made his fortune in the mining business.
Rosenberg paid $40,000 for the contract. The Jobs signature was pre-authenticated.
“When I saw this document, I said, ‘I have to own this,’ ” Rosenberg said. “I would argue that Steve Jobs is one of the most innovative persons ever.“It’s pretty exciting, pretty cool, a great feeling.
“This (autograph) ranks right at the top (of all high-profile memorabilia purchases). It’s the most excited I have ever been to buy something that was not in the sports genre.”
Rosenberg’s purchase has received worldwide media coverage, especially in technology outlets.
“I thought it could have gone for a lot more, perhaps up to $100,000. So I was happy to get it for $40,000,” Rosenberg said.
Auctioneer Bob Eaton, owner of RR Auction, the largest auctioneer of authentic hand-signed historical memorabilia, said that, in 30 years of business, his company has only offered one other Jobs item – a signature.
The only other known document sold at an auction and signed by Jobs was the original three-page contract, which resulted in the creation of Apple Computer Co. and was signed by Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne on April 1, 1976. That document was sold at an auction for nearly $1.6 million in 2011.
Jobs was “extremely reclusive,” Rosenberg said. Consequently, “his signature is very rare. The supply of authenticated Jobs signatures is always going to be low, yet the demand always will be high, super high.
“He’s going to be thought of and respected for what he did for a long, long time. When I have grandchildren, their grandchildren will know who Steve Jobs was, just the way we knew who Alexander Graham Bell or Benjamin Franklin was.”
Rosenberg will house this Jobs signature at the Field of Dreams Gallery, located in The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, where it will be on display for fans and collectors to admire.
“One great thing about these Las Vegas stores is, I can share my passion and love with other people,” Rosenberg said.
So will the Jobs signature carry a price tag at his Las Vegas store?
“I’m not sure . . . I am not ready to part with it quite yet,” he said.
Rosenberg said he still is seeking additional Jobs signatures among his high-profile hit-list of rare, wow-factor autographs.
He is, for instance, working on obtaining authentic signatures of all 13 who have been the Prime Minister of Israel. Rosenberg already has some of their signatures, “but there are some (former Israel Prime Ministers) who are very rare because there are not a lot of signatures of them.”
Rosenberg also is seeking signatures from all U.S. Presidents, and he already has 18 of them. He also is seeking signatures from prominent business leaders.
Rosenberg’s wish-list also includes Nelson Mandela, who he tagged as, “an iconic figure,” and a 1927 New York Yankees team-signed item.
Rosenberg recently acquired authentic signatures from Sylvester Stallone that were signed with his full name, not just “SS,” as it often has appeared. Rosenberg’s Las Vegas stores will be selling Stallone-signed items this winter, including boxing gloves and other items from the Rambo star.
Rosenberg has previously purchased autographs from such legends as Harry Houdini, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, Janis Joplin and others.
So who is seemingly impossible to find a signature from?
J.D. Salinger and William Shakespeare, Rosenberg said.
“There, supposedly, are only six known signatures of Shakespeare – three of them attached to his will,” Rosenberg said. “I’m sure his signature would sell for $5 million-plus.”
Ross Forman is a frequent contributor to SCD. He can be reached at Rossco814@aol.com.