New York. A pair of sneakers worn by NBA superstar Michael Jordan early in his career sold for nearly $ 1.5 million on Sunday, setting a record auction price for shoes worn by the game, Sotheby’s said .
The white leather shoes with the swoosh and red Nike soles were worn by the iconic player in Game 5 of his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls, when Nike’s Jordan-affiliated brand was just starting to make a splash on and on. outside the field. .
“The most valuable sneakers ever offered at auction – Michael Jordan’s 1984 regular-season Nike Air Ships – just sold for $ 1,472,000 in our luxury sale in Las Vegas,” the auction house said. auction in a press release on Twitter.
The astronomical price easily broke the record held by a pair of Nike Air Jordans that sold for $ 615,000 in August 2020 at a Christie’s auction.
A pair of Nike Air Yeezy 1 worn by rapper Kanye West sold for $ 1.8 million in April, triple the previous sneaker record, despite being a private sale.
Jordan’s autographed size 13 lace-up shoes were in good overall condition, with signs of wear from the ground, Sotheby’s said. The pair were a gift from the player to Tommie Tim III Lewis, who was a ball collector for the Denver Nuggets during the 1984-1985 season.
The market for rare sports shoes is booming. The all-time high for sneakers has been broken several times recently as what was considered a niche market a decade ago now attracts the interest of the general public as well as top collectors.
And the market value of items identified with the retired basketball superstar has skyrocketed since the release of “The Last Dance,” an ESPN / Netflix documentary that chronicles the saga of Jordan and his Chicago Bulls.
The sneakers that went under the hammer on Sunday predate the first Air Jordans, the now classic line that quickly went from popular basketball gear to streetwear sought after around the world.
A bankable star
The Air Ship shoe that served as the genesis of the Air Jordan series was designed by Bruce Kilgore and originally released in 1984, and it was the first sneaker worn by Jordan as an NBA pro.
That year, Jordan, already a bankable star given his college basketball exploits, struck a deal with Nike in which the company gave him his own line of shoes and clothing.
The deal was a first for Nike, and it paved the way for a proliferation of collaborations between players and brands.
Jordan’s now famous black and red Air Ships became a subject of controversy in 1984 when the National Basketball Association sent Nike a letter informing the company that the player’s colorful sneakers he wore during a pre-season game. season on October 18 of that year violated the league’s uniform clause.
Sunday’s auction also sold a pair of Nike Air Jordan 11 Retro x OVO “Gold” sneakers, designed as a collaboration between the shoemaker and rapper Drake, for $ 20,160. The model has never been released to the public, making it a rare set of shoes.