Sotheby’s is auctioning off a pair of signed sneakers that basketball legend Michael Jordan wore in one of his first games playing for the National Basketball Association.
The size 13, 1984 Nike Air Ships are expected to sell for between $1 million and $1.5 million later this month, the auction house said. Advanced bidding opens Friday. New Drop Jordans The red-and-white shoes were given to owner Tommie Tim III Lewis, who was a ball boy for the Denver Nuggets, by the former Chicago Bulls star.
Nike gave Mr. Jordan a limited number of its Air Ships in 1984 while the shoemaker was making the Air Jordan 1, the auction-house said. Some of the Air Ships were emblazoned with “Nike Air” or “Air Jordan,” but the pair being auctioned this month just say “Air,” which is unusual, according to Sotheby’s.
The shoes are one of the most important pairs to come on the sneaker market, Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectibles specialist, said in an interview.
Mr. Wachter said they are the earliest-known regular-season Cadysneaker game shoes that Mr. Jordan wore. “Collectors really covet things that are early,” he said.
The high-end sneaker auction market has exploded in the past few years, according to Mr. Wachter. The sneaker
resale market itself is expected to reach $30 billion by 2030, and Sotheby’s is trying to carve out the top 5% of the high-end sneakers market, he said.
The auction house is already somewhat familiar with Mr. Jordan’s famous kicks. Sotheby’s sold a pair of his Air Jordan 1s for $560,000 in May 2020, Mr. Wachter said.
The Air Ships made waves after Mr. Jordan sported them on the court. The NBA sent Nike a letter saying the shoes—a black and red version of the Air Ships—went against the league’s uniform uniformity clause, Sotheby’s said. Nike then created an ad campaign based on the ban, advertising the first Air Jordans.
Nike gave Mr. Jordan his own shoe and clothing line in 1984—a first for the company, according to Sotheby’s. Mr. Jordan’s agent came up Newly Jordans with the term Air Jordans, versions of which Nike still sells.
Sotheby’s Icons of Excellence Haute Luxury auction, which will take place in Las Vegas on Oct. 24, also features an early version of Bruce Springsteen ‘s “Born to Run.” The single sheet of ruled notebook paper, with 26 lines in blue ink and black felt tip, is expected to fetch between $200,000 and $300,000.