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Steve Jobs' worn-out Birkenstocks sold at auction for $218,750

CBS News 11/15/2022 Caitlin O'Kane
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A pair of worn-out Birkenstock sandals that Steve Jobs wore during the time he founded Apple in his garage have been sold at auction for $218,750. Julien's Auctions originally estimated the brown suede and leather sandals would go for $60,000 to $80,000.

Jobs, who died in 2011, wore the Birkenstocks in the 1970s and 1980s. He created Apple in 1976 – in a garage in Los Altos, California, alongside Steve Wozniak – while occasionally wearing the sandals. 

Jobs was "fascinated" with the ingenuity and practicality of Birkenstocks, according to the auction house. He called Margot Fraser, who brought the brand to the United States, when he first tried on the iconic sandal. Fraser said Jobs "was interested in where the form comes from. He wanted to know everything about the materials and he was also interested in the technical side."

Jobs' house manager, Mark Sheff, acquired Jobs' Birkenstocks and other items because "he kept very few things." 

Jobs created Apple in 1976 – in a garage in Los Altos, California alongside Steve Wozniak – while occasionally wearing these sandals.  / Credit: Julien's Auction © Provided by CBS News Jobs created Apple in 1976 – in a garage in Los Altos, California alongside Steve Wozniak – while occasionally wearing these sandals.  / Credit: Julien's Auction

"We kept some, shared some with the landscapers and friends and brought some to Goodwill. The collection we ended up with is quite random," Sheff said, according to the auction house. 

The sandals have since made the rounds at several exhibits, including the Birkenstock Headquarters in Rahms, Germany in 2017 and at Birkenstock's first U.S. store in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City.  

Jobs' ex-partner, Chrisann Brennan, spoke about the sandals at some of the exhibits. She also spoke to Vogue about his iconic shoes. 

The sandals are well-used and the footbed retains the imprint of Jobs' feet.  / Credit: Julien's Auction © Provided by CBS News The sandals are well-used and the footbed retains the imprint of Jobs' feet.  / Credit: Julien's Auction

"The sandals were part of his simple side. They were his uniform. The great thing about a uniform is that you don't have to worry about what to wear in the morning," she said in the interview, according to the auction house. "He would never have done or bought anything just to stand out from others. He was simply convinced of the intelligence and practicality of the design and the comfort of wearing it. And in Birkenstocks he didn't feel like a businessman, so he had the freedom to think creatively."

Jobs was also known for wearing the same "uniform" outfit every day – a black turtleneck and a pair of jeans. 

The sandals are well-used and the footbed retains the imprint of Jobs' feet. Still, they are intact and the sale included a hard case for protective storage and transport. 

Julien's did not disclose who bought the sandals at the auction on Nov. 13. The Birkenstocks also come with an NFT – non-fungible token – that is a 360° digital representation of the sandals. The NFT is a unique and non-interchangeable unit of data stored on the blockchain, the auction house explains. The buyer is the sole owner of the NFT.

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