A Pair of Michael Jordan’s Game-Worn Sneakers Sold for $615,000 at Christie’s, Setting a New Record for the Category

The auction house's first dedicated sneaker sale brought in $932,000 across 11 lots.

A pair of Air Jordan 1 High
A pair of Air Jordan 1 High "Shattered Backboard" game-worn sneakers. Courtesy of Christie's.

A pair of game-worn Michael Jordan shoes just shattered the record for most expensive sneakers ever sold at auction—which is particularly appropriate given that he was wearing them when he shattered a backboard in 1985. (In fact, they still have a piece of glass lodged in the sole.)

Estimated to go for between $650,000 and $850,000, the black, white, and red Air Jordan 1’s sold for $615,000 at Christie’s Original Air online sale last Thursday. They were worn by Jordan during an exhibition game held in Trieste, Italy, in the summer of 1985. They didn’t carry a guarantee.

“This sale once again confirms that sneakers are cultural artifacts and deserve to be listed alongside other luxury items in the collectibles marketplace,” said John McPheters, co-CEO of Stadium Goods, which partnered with Christie’s for the sale, in a statement. 

Michael Jordan's signature on the pair of Air Jordan 1 High sneakers. Courtesy of Christie's.

Michael Jordan’s signature on the pair of Air Jordan 1 High sneakers. Courtesy of Christie’s.

Up until now, Christie’s biggest rival, Sotheby’s, had seemingly cornered the shoe game. Sotheby’s hosted its first dedicated sneaker auction in July 2019, and was responsible for setting the previous single lot record when it sold another pair of ‘85 Air Jordans for $560,000—more than three times the kicks’ high estimate—in May. 

Now, it seems as if other auction houses have caught on to the potential of this new territory.

Indeed, Christie’s first foray into sneaker auctions proved to be a hit, bringing in $931,875 in total, with only two of the 11 lots failing to find a buyer. Perhaps more important to the auction house, though, was the fact that more than 70 percent of registered bidders were new to the auction house. 

Caitlin Donovan, Christie’s head of sale and vice president of handbags and accessories, noted the amount of attention the sale garnered online, explaining that it was “among the highest attended online events Christie’s has hosted since lockdown.”

A part of Air Jordan 4 “Fire Red” Player sneakers. Courtesy of Christie's.

A part of Air Jordan 4 “Fire Red” Player sneakers. Courtesy of Christie’s.

“This highly-curated sale marks Christie’s entry into a new collecting category that merges sports’ history, art, fashion, and contemporary lifestyle,” Donovan said in a statement. “What’s special about this collecting area is that it appeals to a multitude of audiences, seasoned Christie’s clients and new and emerging collectors alike, with these objects viewed all at once as a luxury item, piece of art, and part of pop-culture and sports’ history.” 

Other highlights from the “Original Air” sale include a pair of the Air Jordan 7s that Jordan wore during the gold medal game of the 1992 “Dream Team” Olympics, which brought in $112,500; and a pair of 1985 Air Jordan 1 TYPS, which took in an additional  $62,500.

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