No one bought Apple’s iconic HQ logo sign

The iconic logo for sale at Bonhams Auctions failed to meet its owners' minimum bid requirement. Meanwhile, someone bought a first-gen iPhone for $20,450.
Side-by-side of multicolor Apple logo and first gen iPhone in original packaging against blue background
One of these historical pieces can be traced back to comedian Drew Carey. Bonhams / PopSci

Collectors are apparently only interested in very specific pieces of Apple history. While a first generation 8GB iPhone in original packaging sold on November 8 for nearly $20,500, an Apple rainbow logo sign which once hung atop the company’s Cupertino Corporate Headquarters failed to reach its minimum $30,000 auction bid on Wednesday.

[Related: A first generation iPhone just sold for 317 times its original sticker price.]

Although technically not Apple’s first logo—a detailed, vintage illustration of Isaac Newton seated underneath a tree—the six-hued fruit image designed by graphic designer Rob Janoff in 1977 quickly grew as instantly recognizable as the Nike “Swoop” and McDonald’s “Arch.” According to Bonhams auction house lot description, Steve Jobs reportedly enjoyed Janoff’s minimalist design, particularly the bite mark included to ensure consumers wouldn’t potentially mistake it for a tomato. Jobs was also firm about the multicolor scheme, believing it would “humanize” the company. Apple’s CEO apparently had a change of heart by 1998, when the company updated to the monochromatic logo largely still seen today.

But even shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for the roughly 46-by-50 inch signage wouldn’t have meant its new owner received the logo in mint condition, however. The lot description notes “slight peeling” near the color stripes’ edges, along with “craquelure” in certain areas and “general outdoor wear,” which is probably to be predictable after years hanging atop a building near California’s Highway 280.

Meanwhile, people appeared much more interested in a 8GB first generation iPhone within its original packaging. Finally sold for $20,450, the lot is in much better shape—and has Drew Carey to partially thank for it. Roger Dobkowitz, a longtime producer on The Price Is Right, received the then-revolutionary smartphone as a gift from Carey shortly after the comedian became the game show’s new host in 2007.

[Related: Here’s a look at Apple’s first augmented reality headset.]

“Everyone was quite ecstatic… it had been released just three weeks earlier and it was a big thing in the news,” Dobkowitz said in a statement for Bonhams. Despite all the hype, however, Dobkowitz never bothered to use his at-the-time $499 gift, let alone open it.

“I did not like cell phones, and had no intention of using it,” he explained, adding that he tossed the iPhone in a desk drawer, and never thought about it again “until years later.” By that point, Apple’s iPhone was firmly established as a cultural touchstone product even a cell phone naysayer like Dobkowitz could recognize. The television producer eventually fished out his workplace gift from the drawer, and transferred the likely (already price-inflated) iPhone into a safe, where it remained until very recently.

Dobkowitz’ iPhone is far from the first to hit the auction block. This year alone, another first generation model sold for over $63,000 in February, while a mint condition, factory sealed, first generation 4GB iPhone formerly belonging to an Apple engineering team member auctioned at nearly $200,000 in July.

Maybe in a few years’ time, the Apple logo will find a new home. Perhaps its current owners can call Drew Carey for some advice.