Collectible sneakers: Pair worn by Michael Jordan up for auction

Sotheby’s will put the NBA champion’s 1984-1985 Chicago Bulls season sneakers up for auction in May, as enthusiasm for collectible sneakers grows.

Sotheby's has estimated the red and white "Air Jordan 1" sneakers at 100,000-150,000 Swiss francs ($110,000-$164,000) [File: Denis Balibouse/Reuters]

A pair of red sneakers worn by NBA champion Michael Jordan during the 1984 and 1985 season, at the start of his Chicago Bulls basketball career, is expected to fetch over $100,000 and possibly much higher at an online auction next month, Sotheby’s said on Wednesday.

The auction house has estimated the red and white “Air Jordan 1” sneakers at 100,000-150,000 Swiss francs ($110,000-$164,000). Another pair, identical but bearing Jordan’s autograph, was sold for $560,000 at an auction last year.

“They are obviously a pair of iconic design and something that really collectors focus on as one of the (Holy) Grails and one of the ‘must-have’ pieces,” said Josh Pullan, managing director of Sotheby’s global luxury division.

“We hope we see them fly,” he told Reuters news agency.

Billed “Gamers Only”, the sale will be the first Swiss auction devoted to sneakers. Jordan’s shoes are the star lot among 13 pairs from former NBA stars including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Patrick Ewing, Stephen Curry and Scottie Pippen.

Jordan’s shoes, of which one is a size 13 and the other 13.5, were designed by Nike’s creative director Peter Moore, Sotheby’s said.

Jordan played 13 seasons with the Bulls, winning six championships, and is currently the owner of the Charlotte Hornets.

“There is a new generation of collectors, generally 20 to 30 years old, who are participating in the sneakers market, but we also see that oftentimes, they are also collectors of contemporary art or even Old Masters,” Pullan said.

A pair of sneakers that belonged to rapper Kanye West fetched $1.8m in a private sale earlier this week – setting a new world record price for a pair of sneakers, Sotheby’s announced on Monday.

A pair of ‘Nike Air Yeezy 1’ prototype sneakers designed by Kanye West are displayed at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre before going up for private sale at Sotheby’s, in Hong Kong, China [File: Joyce Zhou/Reuters]

The American rapper’s 2008 “Grammy-Worn” Nike Air Yeezy samples were prototypes for a line developed by West and Mark Smith for Nike. They were revealed during West’s performance at the 2008 Grammy Awards.

The buyer of West’s shoes was sneaker investing platform RARES, a leader in fractional ownership which allows users to invest in sneakers by buying and trading shares in them.

“Our goal in purchasing such an iconic shoe – and a piece of history – is to increase accessibility and empower the communities that birthed sneaker culture with the tools to gain financial freedom through RARES,” said Gerome Sapp, RARES co-founder and CEO.

Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectables, said, “The sale speaks volumes of Kanye’s legacy as one of the most influential clothing and sneaker designers of our time.”

Source: Reuters