Chicago Bulls and NBA great Michael Jordan’s autographed red and white high-top Nike Air Jordan sneakers soared in price like a crowd-screaming after a three-point shot is made from half-court.
The sneakers with the Nike swoosh that Jordan wore in 1985, at the beginning of his career, sold for $560,000 during a 10 day-online auction that ended May 17. The bidding began May 8. The winning bidder was not disclosed. Sotheby handled the auction.
The sale occurred on the final installment of the extremely popular10-part documentary series “The Last Dance,” which is about Michael Jordan and the Bulls dynasty.
The documentary shown on ESPN and ESPN 2 is the most-watched program in ESPN history, some days attracting 6.3 million viewers.
Like the documentary, which exceeded viewer expectations, the sneakers’ sales price far exceeded the high sales estimate of $150,000.
The final bid also smashed the previous record held by the 1972 Nike Waffle Racing Flat Moon Shoe, which sold for $437,500 in July 2019, according to Sotheby’s.
Bidders from four continents, ranging in age from 19 to 50 and over, bid on the Air Jordan sneakers.
Michael Jordan autographed the right shoe with a black permanent marker unlike other shoes that he signed with a ballpoint pen. Jordan wore mismatched sized shoes during most of his career– a size 13 on his left foot and 13.5 on his right foot.
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 forbade 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’s were created in the wake of the famous banned Nike ad campaign and established MJ as the league’s leader in shoe style.