In a blog post on Monday detailing how it obtained the phone, Gizmodo said it was left by an iPhone software engineer at Gourmet Haus Staudt, a German specialty store and beer garden in Redwood City.
The person who found the phone peddled it to Gizmodo, which bought it for $5,000, Nick Denton, chief executive of Gawker Media, which owns Gizmodo, said by instant message.
His company’s sites have had a longstanding practice of paying for scoops, and the windfall was tangible. Traffic spiked on Monday, and at midday more than one million visitors stopped by the site in one hour to see pictures of the coveted gadget.
By late in the day, reports began to surface on the Internet that Apple’s chief executive, Steven P. Jobs, had called Gizmodo to get the device back. Mr. Denton declined to comment, saying any conversation between Mr. Jobs and Gizmodo would most likely have been off the record.
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