The Most Expensive Sneakers Sold at Auction
It’s no surprise that sneakers have become a super valuable commodity. With the extraordinary The Last Dance documentary reinvigorating the Jordan resell market, and Kanye West’s Nike Air Yeezy 1 prototype shattering the record books last month (selling at auction for an eye-watering $1.8 million), we thought we’d revisit some of the most expensive sneakers ever sold at auction.
Going once, going twice, SOLD!
Air Jordan 11 ‘Jeter’ ($40,000)
He’s one of the greatest New York Yankees of all time, so it was only fitting that Jordan Brand bestowed Derek Jeter one of the rarest Jordan releases of all time. To commemorate his retirement in 2017, five pairs of the velvety navy Air Jordan 11s were released in a scratch-off auction at a special pop-up near Yankee Stadium. Dressed in navy suede, this minimal marvel features Jeter’s famed number ‘2’ on the heel in white. To our knowledge, three of the five pairs are currently vaulted up in US consignment stores – ballpark prices ranging from $30,000 to $50,000. You’d probably need a Jeter-sized bank account to even consider forking out for a pair.
Game-Worn Air Jordan 12 ‘Flu-Game’ ($104,765)
One of the most immortal moments in basketball came in 1997. After eating ‘bad pizza’ the night before, Michael Jordan arrived for Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz in terrible condition. Exhibiting flu-like symptoms (although it was probably closer to food poisoning), MJ still managed to put up 38 points and win the game for the Chicago Bulls. Sold by former ball boy Preston Truman via an online auction in 2013 (along with game-worn socks), the Air Jordan 12 ‘Flu-Game’ will continue to live on in sneaker lore forever.
Game-Worn Air Jordan 7 ‘Olympic’ ($112,500)
Worn while playing in the world-beating Dream Team of 1992, Michael Jordan of course christened the Air Jordan 7 with an Olympic gold medal. Later gifted to the receptionist at the hotel Jordan stayed at in Barcelona, the game-worn Air Jordan 7 ‘Olympic’ fetched $112,500 at the 2020 Original Air auction.
Game-Worn Converse Fastbreak ($190,373)
1984 was not only Michael Jordan’s rookie year in the NBA, it was also the year he and Team USA won gold at the Olympics in Los Angeles. At this early stage in his career, MJ was yet to make the switch to the Swoosh and was still rocking Converse as a hangover from his college sponsorship. In June 2017, a pair of Converse Fastbreaks signed by the then-rookie – and said to have been worn on-court at the Olympics – came up for auction. They were expected to sell for around $100k, but when all was said and done they reached a staggering $190,373 – the highest ever price for a pair of game-worn sneakers at that time.
Nike Mag 2016 Auto-Lace ($200,000)
The first shoe that springs to mind when the question of selling a kidney comes up has to be the 2016 version of Nike’s Air Mag. The sci-fi sneaker was first imagined in the late 80s and presented on the silver screen in Back to the Future Part II. Of course, the lights and auto-lacing feature were originally achieved using cinematic tricks – it took almost 30 years for technology to catch up with the concept.
The release of the battery-powered, motor-driven sneakers was limited to fewer than 100 pairs, which were doled out via raffle to sneakerheads, cinephiles and pop-culture aficionados. Wide-ranging appeal, scarcity and technological significance have made it one of the most sought-after sneakers out there. While the Nike Mag Auto-Lace of 2016 was originally made available via raffle, one final pair was auctioned for $200,000, with all proceeds going to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
Nike Moon Shoe ($437,500)
Part of the Stadium Goods x Sotheby’s ‘Ultimate Sneaker Collection’, the out-of-this-world ‘Moon Shoe’ was so coveted that it was auctioned off separately to the rest of the $850,000 assemblage. The Nike Waffle Racing Flat, also known as the ‘Moon Shoe’, was reportedly one of just a dozen pairs ever created – and believed to be the only DS pair in existence. Cobbled by early Nike employee Geoff Hollister for runners at the 1972 Olympic Trials, the Moon Shoe is constructed from nylon and sewn together with fishing line. Sweetest quirk? The soles were literally moulded with waffle irons!
Game-Worn Air Jordan 1 ‘Shattered Backboard’ ($500,000)
While the Air Jordan 1 ‘Shattered Backboard’ colourway now famously takes cues from the Stefanel Trieste uniform Jordan played in during a Nike exhibition game in 1985, Michael Jordan actually shattered the backboard while wearing the OG AJ1 ‘Chicago’ edition. Playing in Trieste, Italy, real glass from the backboard is still lodged in the sole of the AJ1, the sneaker recently selling for a total of $500,000 in a collaborative auction with Stadium Goods and Christie’s. In typical MJ fashion, Jordan autographed the sneaker in 1985 before handing it over to a player of the opposing team.
Game-worn Air Jordan 1 ($560,000)
At first glance, it looks like a ‘Chicago’ AJ1 dressed in its legendary red, white and black colour scheme, but closer scrutiny reveals custom touches. The ‘TYPS’ printed inside the ankle collar stands for Tong Yang Player Sample, confirming these were indeed for MJ. Also, they’re mismatched sizes – any Jordanhead would know he wore a size 13 left shoe and a size 13.5 on the right. Secondly, the ankle height is modified shorter than the regular high cut of the time, but it retains nine eyelets.
Additionally, softer leather and materials – even better than what was being used at the time – feature on the uppers on his personal pairs. They’re signed by the man himself, and all the relevant paperwork is included. Bolstered by the spectacular The Last Dance documentary, the price of the pair skyrocketed to $560,000.
Kanye West’s Nike Air Yeezy 1 ‘Prototype’ ($1.8 Million)
Records were shattered when auction house Sotheby’s attracted a $1.8 million winning bid for Kanye West’s Nike Air Yeezy 1 ‘Prototype’. The enormous sum instantly made it the most expensive public sneaker sale of all time when the hammer fell in April 2021. The size 12 pair was worn by Kanye during his performances of ‘Hey Mama’ and ‘Stronger’ at the 2008 Grammy Awards, and was the exact shoe that announced Nike’s prospective Air Yeezy project to the wider sneaker world. Designed by Kanye and Mark Smith, the sneaker features a soft black leather upper with perforated detailing, a tonal Swoosh logo on the overlay, and the familiar forefoot strap seen on all Air Yeezy models.