Kenneth Kahn, who wears a curly rainbow wig when he performs at children's birthday parties as Kenny the Clown, said his friend gave him the iPad in exchange for money he owed Kahn for a vacation the pair planned to take to Hawaii.
"He owed me $300 for the plane tickets, so he said he had an Apple computer that he wasn't using anymore. I said fine, not having any clue what the hell was going on," Kahn told The Associated Press.
The professional entertainer, who has also made unsuccessful bids to become mayor of Alameda and San Francisco, said he never examined the contents of the device.
Instead, he downloaded Dave Brubeck's "Take Five," Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal," and other songs for his clown routine, which includes magic shows and juggling torches on a unicycle.
Kahn, 47, said he played music on the iPad for a few days at the art and wine fair before police came for it. The device has been returned to the family of Jobs, who died last Oct. 5.
"The thing that is embarrassing to me is I'm a huge fan of Steve Jobs," Kahn said. "It's just bizarre."
Kariem McFarlin, 35, of Alameda was arrested on suspicion of breaking into the Palo Alto residence of the Apple co-founder. Kahn said he had no idea where the iPad came from until McFarlin was taken into custody on Aug. 2.
Apple investigators identified McFarlin after he used the stolen device to connect to his iTunes account on the Internet, police said. He acknowledged to police that he broke into Jobs' residence, as well as other homes, and wrote an apology letter to Jobs' widow, according to a police report.
McFarlin targeted the unoccupied Palo Alto home on July 17 because it was under renovation, authorities said. When construction crews left, he hopped a fence and found a spare key, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
The newspaper said the suspect apparently didn't realize he was in Jobs' house until he saw a letter addressed to the Silicon Valley icon.
During the 15-hour overnight heist, Jobs' wallet and driver's license were taken as well as iPhones, iPads, iPods, Mac computers, champagne and $60,000 worth of Tiffany & Co. jewelry, police said.
Kahn said he met McFarlin when he coached him on a high school basketball team in Alameda more than a decade ago.
"Kariem and I used to talk about ethics all the time, so I thought we were on the same page," Kahn said. "I guess he just got desperate, and made a terrible decision."
McFarlin remained jailed on $500,000 bail and was expected to appear in court Monday. If convicted, he could face almost eight years in prison. Kahn said he has not been questioned in the case. Law enforcement officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
The Santa Clara County public defender's office, which is officially representing McFarlin, did not immediately provide comment Friday. McFarlin has recently hired a private attorney who wants to remain anonymous until Monday's hearing.