Originally Posted by Tulkas
Doesn't really matter what Apple considers it. If it was truly lost, as in misplaced accidently, then it was, by definition, lost. Once Apple informs the party that currently has it, that it is Apple's property and requests that it be returned, then they can consider it stolen or misappropriated. Of course, that also would confirm it authenticity, so really, it is Apple that has to walk the fine line.
If this is the real thing and it was taken off the Apple property without permission, it is stealing. All Apple has to do is say so.
If that were the case, the person buying the declared 'stolen' property best get a lawyer. Surely, the folks a Gizmodo are well aware of Apple's position on 'trade secrets'. As such, it would have been prudent to check with Apple immediately after acquiring the item.
Not that Gizmodo would ever be found guilty, but the process of someone coming in off the street and saying, "Look, I just found this on a bar floor. Give me a couple of bucks and it is yours," could be as suspicious as someone saying, Gizmodo hired hired somebody to steal it in the first place.
As we see here, there are a lot of opinions on whether it is real, stolen, planted, lost, etc. Surely, anybody that has any ethics at all would inquire which was the case before they sold or bought it. But hey, this is the age of the internet. And as we know, unfortunately ethics went out the window a long time ago.