A pair of Air Jordans once owned by filmmaker Spike Lee has gone from the donation bin to the auction block.
Now until Dec. 18, Sotheby’s will be auctioning the all-gold “Tinker” Air Jordan 3s. Experts are expecting the sneakers to earn between $15,000 to $20,000. The present bid at press time is $9,000. Proceeds will go to support the Portland Rescue Mission in Oregon.
Sneaker designer Tinker Hatfield created the metallic gold sneakers for Spike Lee and members of his team. None of the sneakers were sold to the public. Made of premium leather, the gold covers the Nike Swoosh, elephant print and tongue while black, white, and ice blue accents and a red liner are also present on the sneaker. The sneaker’s heel includes logos of Lee’s 40 Acres and A Mule Filmworks production company. An oversized Jumpman insignia is also present on the heel.
Lee, who is reportedly worth $60 million, wore the gold “Tinker” Air Jordan 3s to the 2019 Academy Awards where he won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for “BlacKkKlansman.” Lee, an avid basketball fan and of Air Jordans has had a relationship with Nike since the beginning of his career. In the 1980s when two Nike ad copywriters watched Lee’s film, “She’s Gotta Have It,” they loved the character Mars Blackmon so much that they asked Lee to appear in a series of commercials with Jordan as the character.
A Gem In A Bin
In April employees of the Burnside Shelter discovered the sneakers while looking through a collection bin. The Portland Rescue Mission, which will be accepting the proceeds of the Sotheby’s auction, runs the Burnside Shelter.
The employee took the sneakers to the program director and after researching, realized they were Lee’s famous Oscar sneakers.
“Obviously they must be fakes, we thought,” Erin Holcomb, the shelter’s director shared on their blog. “Why would the real thing end up in our donation bins?”
The sneakers were taken to a shop specializing in collector sneakers. The store’s owner realized the sneakers were one of the few developed by Hatfield but were not Lee’s — he wears a size 9.5 and the sneakers were 12.5. Nevertheless, the store owner offered $10,000 for the shoes, but Holcomb declined, realizing that Sotheby’s had sold another pair of the rare sneakers in 2021 for almost $50,000.
When Hatfield found out about the sneakers being found in a bin, he decided to visit the Portland Rescue Mission. He shared the sneaker’s replacement box and a framed design proof.
“When we did find out they were authentic, it was shocking to say the least,” Holcomb told KATU, Portland’s ABC affiliate. “We were just absolutely floored. What an immensely generous gift, and we were so glad we had the opportunity to put them to work.”