Saturday 15th April 2023 - Cara Bentham
A pair of trainers previously worn by legendary basketball player Michael Jordan has become the most expensive pair of shoes ever sold.
The famous 'Last Dance' trainers fetched a staggering $2.2 million (£1.7 million) when they went under the hammer this week at Sotheby's. Meeting their auction estimate of between $2m - $4m, the black and red (known as Bred) Air Jordan XIIIs were owned and worn by the star between 1997-98, during his last championship season with the Chicago Bulls. The size 13 shoes were worn by Jordan when he carried the Bulls to a 93-88 victory over the Utah Jazz by scoring 37 points in Game 2 of the 1998 NBA Finals series.
The Chicago Bulls went on to win the championship that season. It was Jordan's 6th NBA championship and the 5th time he had gained the coveted title of NBA's Most Valuable Player.
The story is told in the 2020 documentary 'Last Dance', which tells the story of Michael Jordan's last season with the team. As such, the shoes sold at auction this week have been referred to as the 'Last Dance' trainers.
As a gesture of thanks for finding a lost jacket, Jordan is said to have given the 'Last Dance' trainers to a boy in the locker room following the Game 2 victory. According to Sotheby's, where the shoes were sold, they are the only authenticated complete pair of sneakers Jordan wore in an NBA finals game.
The first Air Jordan shoe was worn by the star during his rookie season with the Bulls in 1984. The following year, the Air Jordan 1 went on sale to the public. Since then, over 30 different Air Jordan shoes have been produced. Despite the colossal amount of money the shoes sold for, they are surprisingly not the most expensive Michael Jordan item ever to be auctioned. Back in 2022, a jersey worn by the superstar at the 1998 MBA Finals sold for $10.1 million, becoming the most expensive game-worn sports memorabilia ever sold at auction.
Head of Streetwear and Modern Collectibles at Sotheby's, Brahm Wachter, said: "Today's record-breaking result further proves that the demand for Michael Jordan sports memorabilia continues to outperform and transcend all expectations."
The previous record for a pair of shoes worn by Michael Jordan was his Nike Air Ships which were sold at auction in 2021 for $1.47 million. The 'Last Dance' shoes broke the record for the most expensive shoes ever sold at auction, a record which was previously attributed to a pair of Kanye West's Nike Air Yeezy 1s which sold for $1.8 million.
The sale of the trainers secures Michael Jordan's position as the most valuable athlete for sportswear memorabilia at auction. Perhaps not surprising since he is widely considered one the greatest athletes of all time.
Cover Photo Credit: Sotheby's