Air Jordan 13 sneakers sell for a record $2.2 million

A pair of Nike Air Jordan 13 shoes that Michael Jordan wore during Game 2 of the 1998 NBA Finals sold at auction for $2.2 million — the most ever paid for a pair of sneakers in such a sale.

Tuesday’s final bid fell on the lower end of price range estimates offered by Sotheby’s, which said in March that the shoes could fetch as much as $4 million. But it still lived up to expectations that the black and red sneakers would become some of the most expensive ever sold. Sotheby’s did not disclose the buyer’s identity.

The shoes, experts said, were especially coveted because Jordan wore them during a winning game of the storied series in which he led the Chicago Bulls to its sixth title in eight years. The team’s journey during the 1997-1998 season was chronicled in the popular ESPN documentary “The Last Dance.” But the price also may have been buoyed by an increasingly valuable market for sneakers, which have emerged as an asset class akin to collectibles such as fine art, experts say.

Michael Jordan’s ‘Last Dance’ shoes could sell for $4 million

Demand for sports memorabilia also is rising, as evidenced by the $10.1 million paid in 2022 for a jersey Jordan wore during Game 1 of the 1998 Finals; that set a record as the most paid for a piece of game-worn memorabilia sold at auction. In 2021, a pair of Nike Air Ships worn by Jordan sold at the auction house for over $1.4 million, and in 2019, a pair of Nike Waffle shoes sold for $437,500, according to Sotheby’s.

Sotheby’s said that after the Bulls won Game 2 of the 1998 Finals, Jordan removed his Jordan 13 sneakers, signed them and gave them to a ballboy, who sold them to the person who consigned them at the most recent auction.

The sale coincides with the theatrical release of “Air,” a film starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck that chronicles the sneaker company Nike’s courtship of Jordan during his rookie season in the NBA.

Jordan is known as much for his signature high-tops as his storied basketball career. Air Jordans exploded in popularity after their release in the mid-1980s, so much that in 1997, Jordan Brand began operating independently. And it has only grown more profitable. In fiscal 2022, Nike reported that it generated revenue of $5.1 billion.

In December, Matthew Friend, Nike’s chief financial officer, noted that “the Jordan Brand continues to be an incredible engine for growth.”

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