A pair of sneakers worn by basketball icon Michael Jordan at the 1998 NBA finals have achieved more than $2.2m (£1.8m) in an auction at Sotheby’s, making them the most expensive pair of trainers ever sold. The Air Jordans beat the previous record of $1.8m (£1.45 million) held by a pair of Kanye West’s Nike Air Yeezy 1s.
The Air Jordan 13s were worn by Michael Jordan for the second game of the finals during his last year with the team Chicago Bulls. The game is often referred to as ‘The Last Dance’ and was the inspiration for a hit Netflix series of the same name.
The black-and-red, or ‘Bred’ sneakers were worn when Michael Jordan scored 37 points in the Bulls’ 93-88 victory over Utah Jazz. This model of trainer were among the final public releases of an Air Jordan design made during Jordan’s career with the Bulls. The sneakers feature large, beautiful, silver signatures on each toe-box, and are in immaculate condition. This is the only complete pair of sneakers worn by Michael in an NBA Finals game, from any of Michael’s 6 NBA Finals series, that have ever been photomatched and authenticated by The MeiGray Group, the official authenticator of the NBA. They are also the only pair worn worn by Michael Jordan from the 1998 NBA postseason that have ever been photomatched by MeiGray.
“Today’s record-breaking result further proves that the demand for Michael Jordan sports memorabilia continues to outperform and transcend all expectations,” said Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectables.
“Sotheby’s is extremely proud to hold the world record for most valuable game-worn sports memorabilia at auction and the most valuable sneakers ever sold, both of which – to no surprise – are directly tied to the global icon, Michael Jordan.” Jordan’s memorabilia has previously fetched high auction results – in September 2022 Sotheby’s sold a jersey he wore at the first game of the 1998 NBA finals for $10.1m (£8.1m), making it the most expensive game-worn sports memorabilia ever sold at auction.
While Michael Jordan is always pervasive in sports and pop culture, this year is especially notable as it marks the 21st century’s ‘Jordan Year’ – a reference to Michael Jordan’s jersey number. The sale also comes on the heels of the forthcoming film release of Air, chronicling Nike’s rise to sneaker dominance through its partnership with Michael Jordan in the mid ‘80s and the genesis of the famed Air Jordan sneaker.
The sneakers formed part of Sotheby’s Victoriam collection, a two-part curated sports collection showcasing memorabilia from past and present athletes.
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