The pair of Nike Air Jordan 1 sneakers worn by the ex-basketball star sold for $ 615,000 at auction - AFP

  • A pair of sneakers worn by basketball legend Michael Jordan sold for over $ 615,000. An absolute record for a pair of sports shoes, linked in large part to the extraordinary personality of the person who wore them.
  • But auction houses are not at their first attempt: several shoes worn by the basketball player have already sold in the past.
  • Replicating on their own scale the success of the fast-growing sneaker resale sites, these luxury houses are on the way to making sneakers into luxury collectibles.

Less classy than the Birkin bag from Hermès, but much more expensive. On Thursday, a pair of sneakers that were worn by basketball star Michael Jordan were acquired for more than $ 615,000, auction house Christie's announced. Next to it, the most expensive bag in the world, which sold for more than $ 380,000 in auctions in 2017, looks poor.

This pair of red and white sneakers is now the most expensive in the world. A total of nine pairs of shoes have been worn by former Chicago Bulls star , or having belonged to him, were sold for a total of 931,875 dollars. Eleven pairs were offered in total by Christie's.

Increasingly higher sales figures

It is not the first time that such shots have been successful with shoes associated with Michael Jordan. Two sales have thus taken place, already in 2013 and then in 2017, for an amount of 104,000 dollars that year. In May 2020, Sotheby's sold another pair of Air Jordan 1s, used in a match, online for $ 560,000. “What is most astonishing is the price. We are reaching records, ”comments Pierre Demoux, journalist at Les Echos  and author of  The Basketball Odyssey: How sneakers have worked in the world (La Tengo, 2019).

And for good reason: in the sneaker resale market, "pairs of rare shoes reach up to 10,000 or 20,000 dollars", continues Pierre Demoux. For several years, specialized sneaker resale sites have developed. First ignored by shoe brands, they were then fueled by their limited editions, contributing to the rise in prices.

In the case of the sale of Air Jordan, one of the main resale platforms - Stadium Goods - has also joined forces with Christie's. An exchange of good practices that allows auction houses to reach a younger clientele and increase online sales, and shoe resale platforms to consolidate their place and their business.

A record linked to the character

But the record amount of Air Jordan sales was made possible above all by the basketball player's extraordinary personality, the subject of the hit documentary produced by Netflix,  The Last Dance . “I do not see who other than Michael Jordan could achieve these prices among athletes. It is also a cultural phenomenon that goes beyond the courts of sneakers. Michael Jordan was the embodiment of the American myth, of the winner , of the player who goes beyond his sport, ”said Pierre Demoux.

The Chicago Bulls striker joins the club of stars whose objects are sold at high price auctions, such as Elvis Presley's favorite guitar or the Ford Mustang driven by Steve McQueen. More than the popularity of sneakers among the general public - a market worth 9 billion euros, in France alone - "what makes the value of these shoes is that they were worn by Michael Jordan . It's about owning an object from someone you admire, who created an era. In the case of the Air Jordan, there is not only rarity but also authenticity, through this particular detail: this piece of glass encrusted in the shoe ”, decrypts Dominique Sagot-Duvauroux, economist and co-author of the Marché de l ' contemporary art (La Découverte, 2016).

An ultra-rich audience

The total amount to which the pairs of Air Jordan have been sold shows in any case all the interest in this new collector's item, which seems to find its audience of ultra-rich. “You can create value with any object as long as you create a rarity that is based on notoriety. If two billionaires are fighting for an item, the pair can reach several million dollars. There is no limit, ”explains Dominique Sagot-Dubauroux.

In 2019, a collection of 100 pairs of “the rarest in history” sneakers was sold by Sotheby's for a total of $ 1.2 million. The buyer? Miles Nadal, a Canadian auto investor who didn't know much about this market according to this article in the American magazine  New Yorker .


Auction: The 2.4 million euros obtained by a Banksy will go to a hospital in Bethlehem


Auction: A design of the Olympic flag signed Pierre de Coubertin sold for 185,000 euros

  • Sotheby's
  • Michael jordan
  • Auctions
  • Economy