Focus on Sports/Getty Images
He is considered the greatest NBA player of all time, but Michael Jordan is also a savvy businessman with a huge shoe empire. The basketball legend entered into a partnership with Nike early in his career that turned him into a billionaire.
Jordan’s net worth is $1.7 billion – as of October 18, 2022 – and only $90 million represents career earnings, according to Forbes. In addition to Nike, partnerships with companies like Hanes and Gatorade contributed to his fortune.
However, the partnership he is most famous for is his eponymous Nike shoe brand. If you’re a fan, chances are you have at least a few pairs in your wardrobe.
Wondering which are the most expensive Jordans? Keep reading to find out.
Air Jordan History
In 1984, Jordan launched the sneakers that would eventually become a multi-billion dollar brand. First marketed by Nike as the Air Jordan 1 in 1985, the brand has now grown into a nearly four-decade-old empire.
Interestingly, Jordan wasn’t actually interested in partnering with Nike at first, according to the Los Angeles Times. He only took the first meeting at the request of his mother and ended up with an incredible 25% royalty on the mark.
Released in 1985, the original Air Jordan was priced at $65, according to Foot Locker. This sneaker was originally banned by the NBA for violating its uniform and color policy. However, Nike chose to capitalize on the marketing opportunity and paid Jordan’s fine, which was $5,000 per game.
By 1986, Jordan had become an international sensation, which allowed Nike to raise the price of its eponymous sneakers. The Air Jordan II debuted that year, with a price tag of $100.
Also priced particularly high, several styles of Jordans have released since August 2022, with prices ranging from $140 to $225. Released on September 15, the Air Jordan 2 J Balvin style is the most expensive Jordan in this bunch, with a price tag of $225.
Today, the Jordan brand is more successful than ever. In fiscal 2022, revenue totaled $5.1 billion, representing nearly 10% of Nike, Inc.’s total annual revenue.
10 Most Expensive Jordans of All Time and What They Cost
Wondering which Jordans are the most expensive? Here’s a look at the ten pairs that top the list.
10. 2005 Nike Air Jordan IV Retro Eminem ‘Encore’ with Marshall Mathers Signed Card – $44,100
Rapper Eminem teamed up with Nike in 2005 to create a special blue, red and black version of the Air Jordan IV, in honor of his album “Encore.” The original version was rumored to contain only 50 pairs, which were donated to friends and family, according to Sotheby’s, which auctioned off this pair in 2021.
9. 1995 Air Jordan 11 “Concord” Player Exclusive, Game Worn Signed Sneakers – $56,250
These mid-top size 13 sneakers were sold with the original laces, Upper Deck authentication on signatures and a Chicago Bulls Letter of Authenticity. They were auctioned by Christie’s in 2020.
8. 1985 Air Jordan 1 TYPS Player Exclusive Signed Sneaker – $62,500
Sold by Christie’s in 2020, these high-top sneakers have never been worn. The original laces were intact and they came with a JSA letter of authenticity. In standard Jordan style, the left shoe is a size 13 and the right shoe is a size 13.5.
7. 1997 Air Jordan 12 ‘Flu Game’ – $104,765
No true Jordan fan could forget Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, where he scored 38 points for the Chicago Bulls, despite experiencing flu-like symptoms. In 2013, this pair of sneakers broke Jordan’s previous sneaker record of $31,070, according to Sole Collector.
6. 1992 Air Jordan 7 Olympic Player Exclusive, Sneaker Game-Worn – $112,500
Much to the delight of fans, this pair of shoes came with a Letter of Authenticity from Jordan himself. Auctioned by Christie’s in 2020, the unknown buyer also received a Team USA t-shirt designed by Magic Johnson Tees, which was gifted by Johnson at the same time Jordan gifted the shoes.
5. 1995 Air Jordan 11 “Space Jam” Sample — $176,400
Auctioned in 2021, these “Player Sample” Jordans were sold as unsold and never used. They were signed by the great basketball player and offered for sale in a personalized wood and velvet box, according to Sotheby’s.
4. 1984 Michael Jordan Olympic Converse – $190,373
Before his partnership with Nike began, Jordan wore a pair of Converse sneakers at the 1984 Olympics. Auctioned in 2017, they are believed to be the last pair he wore in a game as an amateur – and the last time he wore Converse in an official game – the shoes are autographed and come with his orthopedic inserts intact.
3. 1985 Nike Air Jordan 1S – $560,000
Worn in a game and autographed by Jordan, these sneakers have sold for more than three times their original estimate in 2020. The red and white pair of shoes feature a classic Jordan shift, with a left size 13 and a right size 13 ,5. These shoes are also unique, as they are signed with a black permanent marker, which held up better than his standard ballpoint pen signature.
2. 1985 Nike Air Jordan 1 High Top Sneakers – $615,000
What is the most expensive Jordan 1? In 2020, this pair of Nikes became the most expensive sneaker ever sold at auction, at least for a while. Carried by the basketball legend during an exhibition game in Trieste, Italy, Jordan scored 30 points, but the most memorable game was his slam dunk that shattered the backboard glass, according to Christie’s .
1. 1984 Nike Air Ships – $1.5 million
Worn during Jordan’s rookie season in his fifth game with the Chicago Bulls, collector Nick Fiorella tagged these sneakers for $1.47 million at a Sotheby’s auction in October 2021. According to Sotheby’s, the Nikes Size 13 red and white Air Ships are the first known regular-season Nike pair worn by the basketball great.
Why are Jordan 4s so expensive?
Usually the most expensive Jordans on the market, you’re not alone if you wonder why the Air Jordan 4s tend to cost more than other styles. Unless you’re a sneakerhead, you’re probably unfamiliar with the history of this shoe.
The fourth signature sneaker designed for the basketball hero, the Air Jordan 4 debuted at the February 1989 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, according to Sneaker News. However, they are most recognized for “The Shot” – Jordan’s series-winning shot that beat the buzzer in the first round of the 1989 Eastern Conference playoffs against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
That same year, a pair of Air Jordan 4s were featured in Spike Lee’s iconic film “Do the Right Thing.” If you’ve seen the movie, Buggin’ Out – played by Giancarlo Esposito – takes on a crazed Celtics fan who scuffed his new Air Jordan 4 “Cement”.
Unsurprisingly, the Air Jordan 4, released in 4 colorways, was a huge hit. However, after the initial release, Nike did not bring the Air Jordan 4 back to stores until 1999. It remained a hot item with collectors throughout the 2000s, due to the design and rarity sneaker industry, according to Sneaker News.
Although the shoe has been in regular circulation for a decade, its status has remained elite. In addition to the exclusive nature of the shoe, Nike has made several limited edition celebrity collaborations.
Several new Air Jordan 4s are expected to release in the coming months.
That includes the Air Jordan 4 Retro “Midnight Navy” style, priced at $210, which is slated to debut on October 29. Additionally, the Women’s Air Jordan 4 “Seafoam” style will retail for $200 beginning February 24, 2023, followed by the Air Jordan 4 “Thunder,” which will release May 13, 2023 and retail for $210.
To most people, it probably seems absolutely crazy that the most expensive Jordans ever sold cost so much more than the average American’s house – several times more. However, sneaker collectors probably understand the value of the basketball icon’s most expensive shoes, and many would likely pay at least the same amount if they had the funds to do so.
That the sneakers worn by Jordan, autographed by him, or both are still so valuable is a true testament to his status as the greatest NBA player of all time.
Information is accurate as of October 19, 2022.
Editorial note: This content is not provided by any entity covered by this article. Any opinions, analyses, criticisms, evaluations, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or otherwise endorsed by any entity named in this article.
Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create accurate, unbiased and up-to-date content. We check every stat, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to ensure that the information we provide is correct. You can read more about GOBankingRates processes and standards in our Editorial Policy.