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 an auction record price for game-worn shoes, Sotheby’s said. .
The white leather shoes with the red Nike swoosh and soles were worn by the iconic player in Game 5 of his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls, as Nike’s Jordan-affiliated brand was just starting to make a splash on the field and off. .
“The most valuable sneakers ever to come to auction – Michael Jordan’s Nike Air Ships worn in the regular season in 1984 – just sold for $1,472,000 in our Las Vegas luxury sale,” the auction house said. auctioned in a statement on Twitter.
The astronomical price easily beat 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 1s worn by rapper Kanye West sold for $1.8 million in April, triple the previous record for the sneakers – despite being a private sale.
The Jordan-signed size 13 lace-up shoes were in overall good condition, with signs of court wear, Sotheby’s said. The pair were a gift from the player to Tommie Tim III Lewis, who was a ball boy for the Denver Nuggets during the 1984-85 season.
The market for rare sports shoes is booming. The sneaker price record 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 major 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 chronicling 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 sought-after streetwear 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 professional.
That year, Jordan, already a bankable star given his college basketball heroics, struck a deal with Nike in which the company gave him his own line of shoes and apparel.
The deal was a first for Nike and paved the way for a proliferation of player and brand collaborations.
Jordan’s now famous black and red Air Ships became a point 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-game season on October 18 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 in a collaboration between the shoemaker and rapper Drake, for $20,160. The model was never released to the public, making it a rare set of shoes.