Hey, quick question: If you had a spare $200,000 laying around in your bank account, what would you spend it on? You’d probably spend it on a house, or maybe a new car (several new cars?). What you probably wouldn’t do is drop that kind of cash on a 16-year-old iPhone. But that’s what happened over the weekend.
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The original iPhone was released all the way back in June 2007. At the time, Apple released two versions of what would become its most successful product ever: a 4GB storage model that cost $499 and an 8GB model that cost $599. And it’s that 4GB model that has become a bit of a collector’s item. This is because back in 2007 the 4GB version sold more slowly than its 8GB counterpart. Most people just paid the extra $100 to double the phone’s storage, and as a result, Apple discontinued the 4GB version just two months after its release, in September 2007. So there weren’t nearly as many of them out in the wild, and even fewer remained sealed in their boxes. That (sort of) explains why a sealed, mint condition iPhone 4GB from 2007 just sold at auction for $190,372.80.
As reported by TweakTown on July 16, the supposedly very rare iPhone 4GB was sold to an unknown buyer on LCGAuctions.com for nearly $200k.
LCG Auctions’ item description suggests that the old Apple phone is the “Holy Grail” among phone collectors. The phone up for auction was still factory sealed in its original box, and apparently in “exceptional condition.” LCGAuctions claimed the consignor was part of the original engineering team at Apple during the iPhone launch, possibly explaining how they got their hands on such a rare device and why they never opened it.
Other iPhones have sold for similarly high prices
This isn’t the first iPhone to sell for a large sum of money at auction. LCGAuctions cites a few other Apple devices that have, over the preceding nine months, sold for hard-to-believe prices, including two factory-sealed 8GB iPhones from the same era. One sold in October of last year for $39,339, and another hit $63,356 this past February. And yet another one of these old, original, and still-sealed iPhones sold this year for $40,000, bought (and opened) by YouTuber Marques Brownlee.
What’s happening here? Well, some have suggested that many of these big-ticket auctions involving old tech, video games, and collectibles are part of some kind of money-laundering or price-fixing shenanigans. For example, some believe that video game auctions involving sealed copies of Nintendo games going for tens of thousands of dollars are part of some alleged racket involving item graders, auction houses, and rich clients. All companies involved have denied the claims, however, and there’s no direct evidence that suggests these recent iPhone auctions are part of some larger conspiracy or otherwise tied to illicit activities.
Regardless of what’s going on, if you want an old iPhone or other collectible tech item, you should probably buy it now before prices get even higher in the future. Maybe it’ll pay for your kid’s college, or the AI apps that they’ll need to compete in the 2040s job market or something.