Nike Is Suing an Art Collective for Turning Its Air Max Sneakers Into ‘Satan Shoes’ Filled With Human Blood

MSCHF’s newest drop is a collaboration with rapper Lil Nas X.

MSCHF’s Satan Shoes (2021). Courtesy of MSCHF.

A year and a half ago, the Brooklyn-based collective MSCHF channeled the big man himself with their project “Jesus Shoes,” a series of altered Nike Air Max sneakers with holy water from the River Jordan injected into the soles. 

For a follow up edition of kicks released last week, on the eve of Passover, MSCHF dropped its new collaboration with rapper and singer Lil Nas X: “Satan Shoes,” another series of Nike Air Maxes, this time with drops of human blood in the soles and a bronze pentagram adorning the laces—and now Nike’s suing them because of it.

Released in conjunction with the music video for Lil Nas X’s new song “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”—a wildly lascivious journey through hell in which the musician gives a lap dance to the devil—the shoes were produced in an edition of, you guessed it, 666. They were priced at $1,018 per pair and sold out in less than a minute. 

But he who sups with the devil should have a long spoon, as they say: MSCHF is now facing a trademark infringement lawsuit from Nike over the project. 

“As an innovative brand that strives to push the envelope and do the right thing, Nike knows it may not please everyone all of the time,” reads the complaint, which was filed Monday in a New York district court. “But decisions about what products to put the ‘swoosh’ on belong to Nike, not to third parties like MSCHF.”

The filing urges the court to halt the sale of all unauthorized Satan Shoes and order MSCHF to deliver the remaining shoes to Nike for destruction. Representatives from the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but told the New York Times, “We do not have a relationship with Little Nas X or MSCHF. Nike did not design or release these shoes, and we do not endorse them.”

MSCHF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.   

MSCHF’s “Satan Shoes,” created in collaboration with Little Nas X. Courtesy of MSCHF.

MSCHF’s “Satan Shoes,” created in collaboration with Little Nas X. Courtesy of MSCHF.

Six members of MSCHF donated their blood for the project, which was mixed with red ink before being mainlined into the shoes. Embroidered on each pair is the edition number and the words “Luke 10:18”—a passage from the bible that reads “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”  

In his new music video, Nas X recreates the scene by descending into hell via a stripper pole. It has been viewed nearly 55 million times since its release last Friday. 

The musician was quick to hit back in response to both Nike’s claims and public criticism from people online who have taken issue with the theme of the shoes. He released a fake apology video on YouTube wherein he begins to address the controversy before the footage cuts abruptly to the lap dance scene from the music video. It’s been viewed more than 5 million times.  

Politicians have started weighing in too. “Our kids are being told that this kind of product is not only okay, it’s ‘exclusive.’ But do you know what’s more exclusive? Their God-given eternal soul,” South Dakota governor Kristi Noem wrote on Twitter. To which Nas X responded, “ur a whole governor and u on here tweeting about some damn shoes. do ur job!”

MSCHF, a group of artists and designers who once cut up a Damien Hirst painting and sold off the partsis no stranger to controversy. Since its founding in 2016, the collective has cultivated a brand known for its distinct blend of quasi-conceptual designs and edgelord attention tactics. 

Most of their “drops,” which arrive every two weeks, will make you both smile and roll your eyes. They’ve created a messaging system that texts you AI-generated pictures of feet, an app that lets you watch Netflix at work, and a squeaking bong shaped like a rubber chicken. Earlier this year, they released “Birkenstocks,” a line of sandals made from destroyed Birkin bags.

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