Sotheby’s Is Hoping for a Slam Dunk With a Pair of Game-Worn Michael Jordan Nikes That Could Fetch $150,000
Michael Jordan wore the signed shoes during his first season in the NBA.
Do you want to be like Mike? Sotheby’s is giving buyers the chance to get a little closer to Michael Jordan with the sale of the basketball star’s game-worn and autographed Nike Air Jordans from 1985, shortly after Jordan joined the Chicago Bulls.
The red-and-white kicks are on offer from collector Jordan Geller, who from 2010 to 2012 ran the ShoeZeum in Las Vegas, which contained a world-record 2,504 pairs of shoes. Sotheby’s is selling the sneakers, estimated to fetch $100,000 to $150,000, in a single-lot online sale that coincides with the 35th anniversary of the Air Jordan.
Bidding is open now through May 17, the day before the finale of the wildly addictive ESPN documentary The Last Dance, about the Bulls’s 1997–98 season, Jordan’s last with the team.
“These are the most iconic and coveted sneakers of all time,” Geller said in a statement. “Sneaker fanatics and collectors from all over the world came to the ShoeZeum to admire them, and they were the crown jewel of the museum. Owning this pair has been a real pleasure, and with all the excitement surrounding Michael Jordan and The Last Dance, my wife and I decided that it’s time to let the shoes find a new home.”
Widely lauded as the greatest basketball player of all time, Jordan broke new ground both on and off the court. The Air Jordan, too, was transformative in its world of signature sneakers, paving the way for brand collaborations with other stars like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
“Michael has two legacies: one on the court, and one on the feet,” Jason Mayden, Jordan Brand’s former senior global design director, told the Ringer.
Sneakers have become highly prized collectibles in recent years. Sotheby’s tested the waters for kicks with its first-ever dedicated sneaker sale in July 2019. Ahead of the online sale, Canadian entrepreneur Miles S. Nadal snapped up 99 of the 100 pairs on offer for a cool $850,000.
The auction house reserved the rarest and most coveted pair of sneakers for the auction: Nike’s historic 1972 “Moon Shoes”—also sold by Geller—which raked in $437,500, a world record in the category.
Crossing over into the sneaker market is a way for Sotheby’s to attract a younger, but still affluent, clientele. “It’s really becoming a prominent collecting category with very serious buyers,” Sotheby’s global head of e-commerce, Noah Wunsch, told artnet News after last year’s sale.
The Air Jordans on offer are a mismatched pair—Jordan typically wore a size 13 on his left foot and size 13.5 on his right.
“The sneakers have beautiful details,” said Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s director of e-commerce development, in a statement, citing the pair’s “red laces, markings from wear, and the iconic coding ‘850204 TYPS’ being a reference to the year and month they were made, as well as ‘player sample,’ indicating their manufacture for Jordan.”
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