Last year Sotheby’s held its “From the Archive” sale series, where one of the items auctioned was an unworn mock-up pair of Nike Air Yeezys. But whereas the sample version of those shoes was sold for $17,500, the actual Nike Air Yeezy 1 Prototypes worn by Kanye West himself are poised to sell for $1 million at a Sotheby’s private auction. That price would comfortably surpass the $615,000 paid at a Christie’s auction this past August for Michael Jordan’s 1985 game-worn Air Jordan “Chicago” 1’s.
Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s head of streetwear & modern collectibles, predicted in January that 2021 could be the year some highly coveted footwear sells for north of $1 million. In speaking with WWD, he explained his department’s long-range vision, “We’re combining the worlds of vintage sneakers, modern sneakers and memorabilia,” and added, “Some of these artists and designers never imagined Sotheby’s would sell these objects as art one day.”
Sneakerhead Ryan Cheng decided to sell the Nike Air Yeezy 1 Prototypes that Kanye rocked for the first (and possibly only time) at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards, when the rapper performed “Stronger” and “Hey Mama.” Before that February 10, 2008 night, there were rumblings of a potential sneaker collabo between West and Nike. So the yearly music industry event was the perfect time to show them off, and thus the legend of the Yeezys was born.
Although the deal eventually soured between Nike and West, that exact pair of sneakers became a prized collector’s item and had even sold to raise funds for the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in the past.
Sotheby’s called on the resources of sneaker authentication experts Suede One to make sure Cheng was giving them the real deal. In an email describing the legacy of a shoe line that was never fully realized, Wachter said, “This pair is critical to the development of the Yeezy franchise, which has become one of the most important sneaker and lifestyle brands in history.”
The Air Yeezy 1’s will continue to remain available for public viewing at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre through April 21st, after which only private buyers will be able to bid on them.
Get some better angles of the pricey kicks below.