Steve Jobs May be in Memphis

Apple CEO Steve Jobs lives at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac in a swank part of downtown Memphis in a yellow house with white trim and a pool in the backyard. Or maybe he doesn’t.

One thing is now for certain, he was in Tennessee for a liver transplant. The Wall Street Journal has the story. We first reported that the Apple CEO was there on April 15.

Like everything associated with the world’s most-secretive CEO, his whereabouts in the week Apple reports earnings have the air of mystery you’d expect to see in an episode of The X-Files.

His location is so secret, in fact, Apple’s public relations team doesn’t even know where he is. “I don’t have that information,” Steve Dowling told me two months ago. “Steve is on a medical leave of absence and there’s nothing further to say.”

But residents of a small Memphis neighborhood are convinced that Steve Jobs has moved in to their quiet loop of houses.

The level-headed people in this neighborhood include attorneys, an art dealer and even a substantial donor to the Al Gore campaign. It is, in many ways, a bastion of blue in an otherwise red state. Their large houses sit well off the street, shaded by old-growth trees.

Perhaps most importantly, the neighborhood is close to several major medical institutions.

The neighbors’ evidence of Jobs’ presence doesn’t exactly lead to an indictment. It consists of hearsay, strange sightings and a sense of wonder at the goings on at the 7,500 square foot mansion.

The mansion, built in 1914, has undergone substantial renovation since it was purchased last month. “I thought the house had flooded and the roof had caved in or something,” one neighborhood resident says. “There was an inordinate number of workers there. There’s been large crews preparing this house for someone.”

Among the renovations? Upgraded security. “Whoever “bought” the house installed video cameras in the trees and there is a security guard in a white jeep,” says another neighborhood resident. “It’s been very secretive.”

Normally, it’s pretty easy to find out who lives next door, even without walking up and knocking on their door. You can look it up in county records.

Not so with the mystery mansion.

The deed to the house hasn’t been processed by the assessor yet, as it was sold just last month to the new tenant, but a state official gave me the name of a limited liability corporation (LLC) listed on the deed.

The LLC traces back to a Memphis law firm that deals with property matters. The lawyer responsible for the transaction won’t say if the house belongs to Steve Jobs. “I have no comment and I do not know,” he says.

The realtor, who worked with the law firm on the sale, says she doesn’t know who bought the house. She worked exclusively with the lawyers.  Did they mention a large corporate client, or somebody from California? “Nobody told me anything,” she says of the sales process. “Everybody in Memphis has come up with a story on who bought that house,” she says.

Maybe it’s a small community, but somehow everyone seems to have come up with the same story: It’s Steve Jobs.

It could be wishful thinking on the part of the families that live in the 22-house division. Nobody has actually seen Steve Jobs in the neighborhood, after all.

Then again, one resident says she saw Jobs’ wife Laurene Powell walking with two other women on the sidewalk two weekends in a row. Is she sure it was her? Not positive, but after looking at a picture of Mrs. Jobs, she said he was 80% certain.

He may not be at that specific house, but he certainly has been in Tennessee.