Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo
- Sneakers worn by Jordan in the 1998 NBA Finals just sold for $2.2 million.
- The sale set a new world record, topping the $1.8 million paid for a pair of Kanye West’s sneakers.
- The market for “trophy assets” remains strong, while the secondary market for sneakers has softened.
Nike Yeezy prototypes worn by Kanye West, now known as Ye, during the 2008 Grammys used to hold the world record for most expensive sneakers ever sold.
That crown now belongs to Michael Jordan.
On Tuesday, Sotheby’s announced the $2.2 million sale of Air Jordan 13 sneakers worn by Jordan during the 1998 NBA Finals. The sale set a new world-record for sneakers, topping the $1.8 million previously paid for the Nike Yeezys by Rares, a collectibles investment platform. Rares allows consumers to buy shares of luxury assets, including sneakers.
In a press release, Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectibles, said, “Today’s record-breaking result further proves that the demand for Michael Jordan sports memorabilia continues to outperform and transcend all expectations.”
The buyer of the shoes isn’t known.
—Sotheby’s (@Sothebys) April 11, 2023
The new record, “speaks to the history of the Jordan sneaker and the cultural value that sneaker has, not only to our culture, but a global culture. The Jordan brand, as illustrated in the new movie, it’s gold,” Rares CEO and founder Gerome Sapp told Insider.
“Air,” a movie about how Nike signed Jordan and created the Jordan Brand, is now in theaters. Retro Jordans remain coveted by sneaker collectors, with colors Jordan wore in competition selling out in seconds.
“To have a (Jordan) be the highest-valued sneaker in the world makes sense,” Sapp told Insider. “That sneaker set the market for the sneaker industry. Now it’s setting the market for the most valuable sneakers.”
The record-setting Jordan sales comes as the secondary market for limited-edition sneakers has softened, but at the same time the market for high-end sports collectibles remains strong.
Last week a bat used by Babe Ruth sold for a record $1.85 million. In May, a jersey worn by soccer legend Diego Maradona sold for roughly $9.28 million. Jordan’s jersey from the first game of the 1998 NBA Finals sold for $10.1 million in September.
“It feels like you’re hearing about a new record being set every week,” said Dylan Dittrich, head of research for Altan Insights, who’s written a book about the secondary market for sneakers. “But when you look at the broader market, it’s under significant pressure.”
Dittrich said the recently sold Jordans are worthy of the record because of the signature on the shoes and the fact that Jordan wore them while winning his last championship.
Rares CEO Sapp, who also played in the NFL, added Jordan sneakers tap into a bigger story that continues to resonate across playgrounds and pick-up basketball courts.
“When I thought about Jordan as a kid, it represented success and it represented beating the odds,” he told Insider.
Jordan, at first, failed to make his varsity high school basketball team, before going on to win championships at the college and NBA level.
“Anybody can beat the odds if you put in the work,” Sapp said. “And part of the sentiment I feel when I put on a pair of Jordans is you feel special. I think that’s come full circle now with that being the most expensive shoe in the world.”