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Brian Hogan Tells All About Selling Apple’s Lost iPhone 4 Prototype to Gizmodo

Brian Hogan Tells All About Selling Apple’s Lost iPhone 4 Prototype to Gizmodo

If you’ve been following Apple news for long, you’ve probably heard of Brian Hogan – better known as the guy who found a lost iPhone prototype in a bar and sold it to Gizmodo back in 2010. It turned into a pretty serious ordeal. Doors were kicked down, Gizmodo editor Brian Chen got a fair bit of legal hassle, and Hogan himself racked up a pretty serious lawyer bill defending against various charges.

Today, Hogan has decided to share the full story by hosting a Reddit “AMA” (ask me anything) session, where he reveals all of the details surrounding the event, and how it affected him.

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From the Reddit thread:

When I was 21 I was at a bar pretty late at night with 2 friends. After the last call both of my friends went to the bathroom, as they left a random drunk guy came out, walked up to me, picked up the phone on the bar stool next to me, and said don’t forget your phone! I told him it wasn’t mine and I didn’t know who it belonged to. Random drunk guy hands me the phone and tasks me with finding its owner. I ask around and cant figure out who it belongs to, and after my friends returned we left and walked home having intentions of figuring out who the phone belonged to and giving it back.

The next day I woke up and actually forgot that I had the phone at first, then went about trying to figure out who it belonged to. I checked Craigslist, then started looking at the actual phone for clues. First I noticed that the screen looked like it had a higher resolution than any iPhone I had seen, then that the case had plastic pieces/buttons in strange places. When I took the case off I found an iPhone with a flat back, flat edges, and a forward facing camera. There were two bar code stickers on the back, and there were a series of x’s instead of a serial number. I was very curious/excited at this point, but I had no idea what I had.

Long story short, my friend Sage and I decided the phone was an Apple product, we decided to test and see the leverage that something like that had. […]

A few of my favorite highlights can be seen below – but I highly recommend checking the full AMA out for yourself over at his Reddit thread! It just goes to show you: crime doesn’t pay – but it does sometimes make a damned interesting story! Let us know your thoughts on his responses by sounding off in the comments!


How much money did you make from the entire episode?

Gizmodo told me they would give me $5,000 for the story, and another $3,000 after it was confirmed by Apple to be real. They knew that there was no way in hell I was going to be able to ask for the $3,000 after the story aired, but I didn’t. I ended up having to hire and expensive lawyer and had to pay him much much more than $5,000.

So, did this event had any positive effect on your life (get a good job etc)?

Yeah it taught me to own up to my mistakes and gave me a shove in the right direction in my life. It made me want to take school more seriously and gave me the motivation to go get a good job and start investing in my future.

I remember Gizmodo taking a LOT of heat for this; what do you think of the site as a whole and how they treated you during this ordeal?

Actually nothing happened to them. Jason Chen got his door knocked down during a police raid, but no criminal or civil charges were filed. My friend and I were the ones that took the heat. From my perspective Gizmodo took advantage of me.

How did the ordeal affect your relationships with your friends/family?

It was extremely tough on my family, there were news vans in front of my house and we ended up staying at a hotel in the east bay for a week until they left. My name got out in the media because my girlfriend at the time made a Facebook post about it, which I asked her to delete, but the press found her and she couldn’t deal with all the stress that followed and we broke up maybe 3 months after that.