These second-hand sneakers are worth more than their weight in gold.
Basketball legend Michael Jordan wore the size 13 Converse Fastbreaks during the 1984 Olympic Games trials in Los Angeles, before winning a gold medal with the United States team in the games. It is now estimated that they make between $ 80,000 and $ 100,000.
The signed sneaks are among more than 50 lots of rare Olympic athlete memorabilia, sold in an online auction only at Sotheby’s. The auctions begin on July 23, the day of the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Games.
The Converse is believed to be among the rarest sneakers worn by Michael Jordan in existence today – especially since he’s so closely related to Nike.
“He really liked Converse,” said Brahm Wachter, streetwear and modern collectibles manager at Sotheby’s. “They were level with the ground, he could feel the ground beneath his feet.”
Not only does the auction ring at the start of postponed pandemic games. It also comes at a time when collectors’ interest in rare sports memorabilia, and sneakers in particular, is at its height. In 2019, the 1892 manifesto of the founder of the International Olympic Committee, Pierre de Coubertin, for modern games sold for $ 8.8 million at a Sotheby’s auction. Last summer, Christie’s auctioned off a pair of shoes Jordan wore to the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 for $ 112,500.
“Sneakers in general have become the hottest sports collection besides sports cards because they appeal to a large audience,” said Leila Dunbar, an independent appraiser specializing in sports memorabilia and pop culture. (She previously ran Sotheby’s collectibles department, but has no involvement in this auction.)
A pair of metallic Nike spikes worn and signed by sprinter Michael Johnson – who became known as the ‘man with the golden shoes’ for wearing an almost identical pair in his winning 200m and 400m races at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
It was all part of his plan: “I didn’t want to sit there with gold-plated shoes with a silver around my neck,” Johnson said at the time.
The shoes even made the cover of Time magazine, when Johnson tossed them over his shoulder next to the gold medals around his neck. The auction shoes are expected to fetch between $ 30,000 and $ 50,000.
But the jackpot is a pair of track cleats – estimated at between $ 800,000 and $ 1.2 million – that Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman created for Canadian Olympic sprinter Harry Jerome in the early 1960s. predating the launch in 1964 of Blue Ribbon Sports, which would later become Nike, and Jerome’s bronze medal for the 100-meter run that same year, and feature four red prototype logos that resemble the swoosh and the “waffle” sole. Emblems of Nike.
“[Browerman] was zero percent at the time concerned with aesthetics, ”Wachter said. “He was focusing on, ‘Could that make the athlete run better, faster? Would it improve their time? “
Most notable, Dunbar said, is that these may be the earliest known Nike prototypes that went up for auction.
“Anything that is a first… establishes a foundation and because of that it has a higher level of desirability and historical significance, and that usually translates into value,” Dunbar said.
There is also an Olympic jersey and shorts combo, valued at $ 5,000 to $ 10,000, designed for hoops star Vince Carter who won gold in the Sydney 2000 games. It was then that he performed his gravity-defying “death dunk” – as the French press called it at the time – by jumping over seven-foot-two French player Frédéric Weiss. It’s one of the most iconic moves in hoop history, which makes Carter’s Olympic gear all the more valuable.
“These are hard to find items,” Dunbar said. “When you buy memorabilia from Olympic athletes, you are buying history. You are buying a moment in time that cannot be replaced and it cannot be recovered.