One-off product designs created by Jony Ive and Marc Newson sold at a special (RED) charity auction at Sotheby’s in New York City over the weekend, with the pair’s four designs smashing all bidding estimates.

The Mac Pro, for example, was expected to fetch between $40,000 and $60,000 but ended up going under the hammer for almost a million – $977,000, to be precise. The auctioned model of Apple’s high-end powerhouse PC looks identical to the recently revamped model except for one difference – the color. The regular model, which goes on sale in December with a starting price of $3,000, has a black exterior, whereas the auctioned model is red. Let’s hope Apple popped in a bit of extra memory for the buyer’s additional $974,000.

The solid gold Apple earbuds, meanwhile, were picked up for $461,000. Yes, $461,000. These were expected to go for no more than $25,000.


Then there was the specially designed Leica M for (RED) camera, a shooter featuring a laser-machined aluminum body and anodized aluminum outer shell. According to Leica, Ive and Newson went through 561 models and around 1,000 prototype parts before arriving at this final, unique design. This, too, smashed its estimated price of up to $750,000, with one very wealthy buyer handing over $1.8 million for a device that will more than likely stay locked away in a secure location rather than be seen hanging around the neck of a vacationer.

Even the pair’s one-off aluminum desk fetched way more than expected, with the highest bidder paying $1.68 million for a table top (with legs) that had been expected to go for between $300,000 and $500,000.

In an interview with Vanity Fair earlier this month, Ive and Aussie industrial designer Newson discussed their work, with Apple’s design guru quick to underline the importance of focusing on every single aspect of a design.

“We are both fanatical in terms of care and attention to things people don’t see immediately,” Ive said. “It’s like finishing the back of a drawer. Nobody’s going to see it, but you do it anyway. Products are a form of communication – they demonstrate your value system, what you care about.”

Newson added, “You discover that very few people have the level of perfection we do. It is actually very sick. It is neurotic.”

The charity auction, called Jony and Marc’s (RED) Auction, included a bunch of other one-of-a-kind items – 44 in all – with the special event raising nearly $13 million for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Apple has for some time been involved with the (PRODUCT) RED campaign, set up seven years ago by U2 frontman Bono and Bobby Shriver to work with brands to raise money for a variety of causes, including AIDS programs in Africa.

The tech giant has several special edition (RED) products – an iPod Touch and Nano among them – available to consumers at prices slightly more wallet-friendly than those seen at the Sotheby’s auction, with a portion of the profits going to The Global Fund, which helps distribute funds raised by (RED).