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Apple's founding contract coming up for auction

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The contract that established Apple as a corporate entity in 1976 and another document, signed 11 days later, that removed one of the partners are expected to fetch up to $150,000 when they are auctioned next week by Sotheby's.

The December 13 auction of books and manuscripts will also include a letter from Franz Kafka complaining of writer's block, a set of cartoons from Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and a telegram announcing the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.

A 1944 letter from Albert Einstein, where he remarks to a friend on the progress of the Second World War and corrects the record to say his manuscript on relativity has not been destroyed by the Nazis, is expected to fetch at least $60,000.

But the sale of the Apple Inc contract, available several months after the death of co-founder Steve Jobs in October, is expected to be the biggest draw.

"Because of Jobs being so focused on in the news, and his accomplishments, it just seemed like the right time," said Richard Austin, the head of the Books and Manuscripts department at Sotheby's.

"People have been reminded of how important and how influential he is - someone who contributed to technology and to social history and had such a profound impact."

The contract establishes the Apple Computer Company and states that Jobs and Steve Wozniak will each be given 45 percent of Apple's shares. Ronald Wayne, who drafted the contract, was given 10 percent.

But within days, Wayne had decided not be become involved with the fledgling technology company. Wayne was paid $800, and later another $1,500, and was released from the contract. His 10 percent share would today be worth $2 billion.

Jobs left Apple in 1984 following a power struggle with the company's board of directors but returned to the company in 1996. He would become the central figure in transforming Apple into one of the world's largest and most envied companies.

Wayne sold the documents to a private collector in 1994.

It was not immediately known if Apple was interested in bidding on the document.

"Wonderful things always sell and there are wonderful and unique things in this sale," Austin said.

(Reporting by Edith Honan; editing by Philip Barbara)

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