updated 01:25 am EST, Fri December 13, 2013
Partnership agreement shines light on little-known chapter
A 1978 legal agreement between two college buddies -- Steve Jobs, who was already involved at the time with Apple Computer, and Robert Friedland, who went on to become a mining tycoon and billionaire -- setting up partnership for an investment business has fetched $40,000 at auction. The eight-page legal document, creating a "place of business" in McMinnville, Oregon for dealing with real estate investments, bears the signatures of both men.
The primary mystery surrounding the partnership is why Jobs entered into it. By mid-1978, Jobs and Apple had established what would become the personal computer industry and had an impressive hit with its Apple II computer. It is possible that Jobs, who was already very wealthy by this point, agreed to invest in his friend's startup in exchange for a percentage of the businesses, but intended to act as a silent partner. He may also have seen the agreement as a potential tax shelter or investment opportunity.
The document was bought by Tristar Productions CEO Jeff Rosenberg, reports CNet. It is only the second time in its 30-year history that RR Auctions has offered a Jobs-signed document. Also unclear about the arrangement is what became of the partnership.
The two men knew each other well, with Jobs and Friedland having attended Reed College together and Jobs having worked on Friedland's communal farm and apple orchard. Friedland is described as a "charismatic student body president" while at Reed, a man who had recently returned from a two-year prison stint for LSD possession and who shared an interest in Easter spirituality with Jobs.
The address of the business established by Jobs and Friedland featured a rural address: "Route 2, Box 472" in McMinnville, a 170-acre property that may also have been the location of his farm and orchard, which played prominently in shaping Jobs' outlook, along with Jobs' trip to India which was made at Friedland's suggestion. "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 form says in its opening. Other articles include capital contributions, profits and losses, managements, partner's powers, and the dissolution of the partnership.
Two years after the partnership began, however, Jobs was said to have "almost completely distanced himself from Friedland." What business they actually engaged in, and what became of it is unknown. Friedland today is a resident of Singapore, owns a Canadian mining company and is a dual citizen of Canada and the US with an estimated net worth of over $1.3 billion.