It turns out that investing in Pirate Flags might be almost as good an investment as shares of AAPL.
Susan Kare, who worked with Steve Jobs as a founding member of the original Macintosh team at Apple, has sold hand painted “Pirate Flags” since 2014.
The pirate flags are reproductions of the original “pirate flag” that flew over the Macintosh building (called “Bandley 3”) at the Apple Computer office in 1983.
Susan is the actual designer and painter of the original pirate flag.
Apple flew one in Cupertino in 2016 for the 40th anniversary of Apple.
Susan can be seen in this group photo with Steve Jobs and his team, who was Chairman of Apple at the time, with the flag in the background.
Susan sells the flags in either 3’x5′ or 4’x6′ sizes. When she announced the artwork back in 2014, the flags were sold for $1,900 and $2,400, respectively, on her website.
At the time, this struck me as quite reasonable for a unique piece of art from a professional designer who had an incredible impact on the success and user experience of the original Macintosh.
I mean, Susan is basically recreating her original work…
For entrepreneurs who relate to Steve Jobs’ struggles, the flag epitomizes the story of the birth of the Mac… In some ways, it represents everything Steve Jobs worked for at Apple until he died.
Is Buying A Pirate Flag A Good Investment?
In the time since the original Susan Kare pirate flag was launched in 2014, the price of a Pirate Flag has gone up about 84%.
Meanwhile the price of Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) has increased about 87%, not including dividends. So, overall, not a bad return from the pirate flag.
Who Is Susan Kare?
As the original designer of the icons for the Mac, Susan is featured in many places in Walter Isaacson’s book about Steve Jobs.
The book describes how Jobs obsessed about every tiny detail of the Mac user interface.
One of Susan’s responsibilities was to make whatever appeared on the Mac screen look friendly… She designed the icons for the Mac including the smiling and frowning Mac, the “bomb”, the “grabber”, the pencil, the paint bucket, the spray paint can, etc.
According to Folklore.org, the pirate flag was originally painted after Jobs came up with three “Sayings from Chairman Jobs” during an offsite to inspire the Macintosh team about the importance of their work on the project:
Real artists ship.
It’s better to be a pirate the join the navy.
Mac in a book by 1986.
After the offsite, Steve Capps, one of the Mac team’s programmers got a piece of black cloth and had Susan paint a skull and crossbones on it. The eye patch was an Apple logo. Capps then hoisted the flag on a scaffolding pole over Bandley 3.
Jobs apparently loved the flag and it flew over the building for several weeks (which may be why it looks frayed and kind of worn out) before members of the Apple “Lisa” team stole the flag and sent the Mac team a ransom note.
Susan was originally brought onboard the Apple team by Andy Hertzfeld, who was a high school classmate of hers.
After Jobs was kicked out of Apple by John Sculley, Susan followed him to Next Inc. where she was Creative Director. Susan also did design projects for IBM and Microsoft, and designed the cards in the Microsoft “Solitaire” game.