I first spotted Apple's rainbow logo wall-hanging in a chance photo taken by John Haskey (below) at The Jackling House in Woodside, California back in January of 2011. The historic 14-bedroom mansion was purchased by Steve Jobs in 1984 where he resided for nearly a decade. After a protracted court battle with the city of Woodside, Jobs finally demolished the manor in February of this year. At the time, I had no clue as to the origin of what looked like an odd Apple bathroom rug.
It wasn't until recently that I discovered the mangy looking rug I saw discarded in an upstairs bathroom at Jobs' mansion, was actually a designer wall-hanging featured in Apple's 1983 Gift Catalog. In fact, I discovered that only 25 wall-hangings were commissioned by Steve Jobs as limited edition works of art for Apple's catalog and originally sold for $350 each.
"This magnificent wall-hanging of the Apple logo is truly a work of art. Produced by leading designer Myra Burg, each one is hand-made and reflects the quality craftsmanship she is known for." Apple wrote in their gift catalog.
When Apple was building their now iconic brand in the early 80's, the company sold all kinds of Apple merchandise through an official mail order catalog. Apple branded products included t-shirts, men's ties, coffee mugs and even a brass belt buckle. But it was the wall-hanging art that had me curious since it was hand-tooled by "leading designer Myra Burg" according to Apple. I wondered what that $350 piece of art would be worth today. So I set out to find designer Myra Burg.
I quickly located Burg through her artwork website. After several days of leaving phone messages, I was thrilled when Myra Burg finally responded to my calls. With a client list that includes legendary investor, Warren Buffett and Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak, I learned Burg's artwork today is highly sought after. She produces commissioned installations that include colorful fabrics and metal, with my favorite of her current portfolio being the amazing cylindrical tapestries she calls Quiet Oboes.
Burg's fabric inspired work has been featured in major magazine publications, gallery shows and purchased by companies around the globe. The Wall Street Journal dubbed her art as "collectible" in 2007 with some pieces priced upwards of $25,000. It wasn't difficult getting Myra to recall her original Apple creations she produced over 28 years ago while studying Architecture at Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo, California.
"I remember when Steve Jobs called me up," said Burg."He said; 'Here's what we would like to do, we want you to do a limited edition of 25 wall-hangings'.
Myra recalled an impromtu photo shoot she did with her tufted Apple creations before delivering them to Jobs (pictured below). She arranged the rugs on a football field as a way to show the massive size of her work when laid out side-by-side. The photo of Miss Burg atop her Apple logo rugs definitely screams vintage 1980.
Myra Burg pictured with her original Apple wall-hanging art 1983
It was Burg's brother Andrew, who confirmed that his sister actually produced 27 of the original Apple wall-hangings, with 25 earmarked for sale in Apple's 1983 catalog. An additional one was created especially for Steve Wozniak and another for Steve Jobs.
"I knew Steve Wozniak long before the project," said Burg. "My brother Andrew and Woz would mess around with computers together."
Andrew Burg told me that the Apple wall-hanging was actually his idea and then pointed me to a blog post he wrote back in 2000 entitled "My HP-3545". It's a story about Steve Wozniak rewiring Andrew's HP-35 calculator and turning it into an HP-45. The fascinating tale chronicles Andrew Burg's connection with Steve Wozniak through HP calculators and a chance meeting with Steve Jobs at his parent's garage in 1976, where Jobs and Wozniak began mass producing modems.
"I visited him and he showed me around at other friend Steve's #2 garage and some circuit boards there," Andrew Burg wrote about meeting Steve Jobs.
"His mother made us sandwiches and Steve #1 (Woz) says "Hey, Andrew... Why don't you move up here and help me start a computer company?" I said "I'm not ready to move out of my parent's house yet." But I visited again and was impressed. It was too late, Steve Wozniak went on without me. I never met Steve Jobs again, but I hear he's been successful too." wrote Andrew.
What began for me as a quest to locate artist Myra Burg, steadily morphed into a tapestry of fantastical stories surrounding Apple's branded wall-hanging. Including a rare photo of a wall-hanging Myra calls "Nine Lives", a piece she designed for Steve Wozniak's home.
Myra Burg "Nine Lives" wall-hanging commissioned by Steve Wozniak
Andrew Burg speaks fondly of his sister's talent and even sent me a photo of an original Apple logo stained glass he created for her. A piece that may have been the inspiration for her Apple art 28 years ago, according to Andrew.
Knowing that Steve Jobs was not very nostalgic, makes it much easier to understand why his own wall-hanging was left behind at his Woodside home when moving out in the early 90's. Still, I cannot help thinking that some Apple fan on the demolition crew snatched up his Myra Burg original before The Jackling House was finally demolished.
I also wonder how many of these rugs were actually purchased back in 1983, since they were never listed as limited edition items. If you look closely at the wall-hanging, you'll see Myra Burg's name along the bottom corner as it also appears in the Woziak commissioned piece. A fact, that in my opinion makes these unique Apple art pieces even more collectible.
So how much do you think one of these original, tufted Apple wall-hangings would sell for today? A few thousand maybe? It's difficult to speculate. But if you take into account that a current Apple branded, hooded sweatshirt the company gifted to their employees this year just sold on eBay for over $2,000, I could imagine Myra's catalog work commanding at least double that amount.
After learning about the history behind this classic Myra Burg work of Apple art, I would consider one to be priceless. You should also know that almost 30 years after creating her Apple-centric art, Myra emailed me the scanned photos of her work using an iPad. That's also priceless.
Myra Burg pictured in front of her current Quiet Oboes artwork installation with paintings by Liz Cummings