By James Tarmy
A pair of Michael Jordan’s sneakers from his famous ‘Last Dance’ season set a world record Tuesday selling for $2.2 million at Sotheby’s. With a stroke, the Air Jordan 13s became the most expensive sneakers known to have sold, ever. This particular pair, according to Sotheby’s release, was the final pair of Air Jordan XIII Breds (shorthand for “black and red”) that “Michael would ever lace up in an NBA game.” He wore them in game two of the 1998 NBA Finals.
Given that the sneakers came to auction with an estimate of $2 million to $4 million and carried what Sotheby’s calls an “irrevocable bid,” which is a way of saying they’d lined up a buyer in advance, the sale was always anticipated to set a record. Having barely cleared the low estimate (estimates do not include auction house fees; final sales numbers do), the final price is a victory for the sneaker-collecting community, but not necessarily evidence of a booming market.
The previous known sneaker record was a $1.8 million private sale of Nike Air Yeezy 1 sneakers worn by Ye (formerly Kanye West), which Sotheby’s brokered in 2021. The previous public auction record, also set at Sotheby’s in 2021, was for a pair of Michael Jordan regular season game-worn Nike Air Ships, sold for $1.5 million.
Still, these prices are dwarfed by yet another sports memorabilia sale at Sotheby’s in 2022, when someone paid $10.1 million for Jordan’s ‘Last Dance’ jersey worn in game one of those ’98 finals.
The sale comes at a time when Jordan’s career has returned to the public spotlight: Air, a chronicle of his path to being signed by Nike has received positive reviews, grossing a reported $20.2 million since opening on April 5. In March, ESPN reported the NBA legend is in talks to sell a majority stake in Charlotte Hornets.
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