NEW YORK – Sotheby’s sold Michael Jordan’s Game-Worn Autographed Nike Air Jordan 1s from 1985 for $560,000 Sunday in an online auction – the new world auction record for any pair of sneakers.
It surpasses the previous record set at Sotheby’s for the Nike 1972 Nike Waffle Racing Flat ‘Moon Shoe’ sold for $437,500 in July 2019.
Following a bidding war that drove the value up by $300,000 within the final 20 minutes of the sale, the pair achieved more than 3.5 times their $150,000 high estimate.
The pair was sold coinciding with the final episode of the popular ESPN documentary The Last Dance, spotlighting the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan’s legendary career.
The vintage originals from 1985 are in the Chicago Bulls white, black and red – the Air Jordan 1 colorway that Michael Jordan wore the most often on the court. In 1984, Nike gave Jordan a signature line of shoes and clothes – a crucial, unprecedented move to entice Michael Jordan to sign with Nike. Produced between February to April 1985, Jordan wore the present pair of Air Jordan 1s during an early, pivotal point of his career and thus catapulted the sneaker’s popularity.
The Jordan exclusive features unique variations from the public release of the sneaker: MJ’s are Mids, whereas Nike released only Highs and Lows to the public in 1985; the iconic Swooshes are longer, leaner, and more aggressive; and the pair is made from a different material and features red laces, varying from the public offering with only black and white laces.
The right shoe features Michael Jordan’s signature in black permanent marker, unlike many of Jordan’s game-worn autographed shoes which are signed with a ballpoint pen that wears away over time. On offer in remarkable condition, the pair shows frequent wear in comparison to most of Michael Jordan’s other game-worn Shoes, as he wore a new pair of shoes in every game later in his career. Beautifully creased, black and red and white slashes and markings on the uppers are presumably from the shoes knocking into each other or into the shoes of opponents while Jordan wore them to battle. Wearing mismatched shoes most of his career, the pair is in a size 13 (left shoe) and a 13.5 (right shoe).
In 1984, Michael Jordan’s black and red shoes (Air Ships) became controversial after the NBA sent a letter to Nike in February of 1985 informing the company that Jordan’s colorful shoes were a violation of the league’s uniformity of uniform clause and forbid Jordan from wearing them. Nike responded by creating an ad campaign around Jordan’s banned shoes, remarking that while “the NBA threw them out of the game, fortunately, the NBA can’t stop you from wearing them.” The Air Jordan 1s were created in the wake of the famous banned Nike ad campaign and established MJ as the league’s leader in shoe style.
The unparalleled sneaker became so popular and successful that Nike continued to make new signature Air Jordans each season. From the inception, Air Jordans have always been the pinnacle of sneakers, unmatched in their quality, craftsmanship, innovation, performance and style.