The Black Cat is still catching air and breaking records. A pair of Chicago Bulls icon and NBA great Michael Jordan's shoes just sold for more than $1 million at a Sotheby's auction, marking the first time a pair of sneakers has ever fetched such a high dollar.
Sotheby’s “Icons of Excellence and Haute Luxury” auction was held in Las Vegas Sunday, Oct. 24, featuring a number of luxury timepieces, handbags and accessories, including a few pairs of shoes and even a car. The M.J. sneakers were the hottest item on the bidding block, won by cards collector Nick Fiorella. The red and white Nike Air Ships were Jordan's earliest-known pair, worn during his regular season in 1984, including during game wins.
According to a report by Sotheby's, Fiorella paid $1.47 million for the pair in Las Vegas, making it the highest price achieved for any sneaker at auction, as well as the first pair of sneakers to top $1 Million at auction.
Michael Jordan's long and storied collaboration with Nike began in 1984 when the athletic-wear company offered Jordan a chance to create his own signature clothing line. This was Nike's first collaboration, which paved the way for brand partnerships we continue to see today.
Designed by Bruce Kilgore, the “Air Ship” was released in 1984 and was the first pair of sneakers Jordan wore on the court playing in the NBA. When he first joined, the Air Jordan 1 was not ready to be worn, so Nike provided a supply of Air Ships with “Air Jordan” or “Nike Air” written on the side.
Jordan was caught in a controversy when he wore a pair of black and red Air Ships, but the NBA sent a letter to Nike saying the bright colors of the shoes were in violation of the uniform clause. This led to the white and red Air Ships that now take the spotlight, proving their iconic quality with this high-price bit.
“To present such a groundbreaking and important pair of sneakers at this special auction in Las Vegas further solidifies the strength and broad reach of the sneaker collecting community," says Brahm Wachter, Head of Sotheby’s Streetwear and Modern Collectables. "This record-breaking result for the Jordan Nike Air Ships affirms the place of Michael Jordan and the Air Jordan franchise at the pinnacle of the sneaker market. Since launching sneaker sales at Sotheby’s in 2019, we’ve seen time and again the ceiling for sneakers continue to be pushed, and we are excited about all the potential ahead of us."
Other sneakers at the auction included raper and singer Drake's OVO Air Jordan 11 Golds, Michael Jordan's "Player Simple" 1985 Air Jordan 1s, and Spike Lee's Air Jordan 3s worn at the Oscars. See more of the items from Sotheby's recent “Icons of Excellence and Haute Luxury” auction online.