Apple says it wants its iPhone back. In an official letter from Cupertino posted on Gizmodo, Apple has asked the gadget blog to please return “a device that belongs to Apple.”

“It has come to our attention that Gizmodo is currently in possession of a device that belongs to Apple. This letter constitutes a formal request that you return the device to Apple. Please let me know where to pick up the device,” the letter states.

The letter was signed by Apple’s senior vice president and general counsel Bruce Sewell. The request comes after Gizmodo yesterday posted pictures of a device, which it says it received from a person who found it in a bar.

In a posting on Gizmodo’s Web site entitled “How Apple Lost the Next iPhone,” blogger Jesus Diaz explains how an Apple programmer, Gray Powell, left the phone at a Redwood City, Calif., bar called the Gourmet Haus Staud. Powell was celebrating his 27th birthday.

Gizmodo did not name the person who originally found the phone but said that the person had it in their possession for about two weeks before becoming frustrated when Apple didn’t respond to attempts to return the phone. At that point, the person turned the device over to Gizmodo.

Diaz told Apple that all they had to do to get the phone back was to claim it on record, and the letter now posted online is a means to the end.

Most believe the device Gizmodo had in its possession was a prototype of the next-generation iPhone. While the phone had been “bricked” by a remote wipe using Apple’s MobileMe service, the hardware itself was somewhat revealing. The phone featured an aluminum bezel with plastic backing, a forward-facing camera and a larger battery than the current 3GS.

Neither Apple nor Diaz were available for comment before press time.

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