On Friday, Sotheby’s announced it will auction off a signed pair of 1985 Nike Air Jordans created for Basketball legend Michael Jordan at the start of his tenure with the Chicago Bulls. The single-lot online sale will offer the piece of sports history at an estimate of $100,000-150,000, with bidding open to prospective buyers from May 8-17.
The iconic sneakers were designed and produced by Nike in 1985, made exclusively for Jordan before being released to the public in an unprecedented endorsement at the beginning of Jordan’s career— mounting the tradition for signature shoe campaigns with basketball stars for decades to follow. The closing day of virtual bidding will also coincide with the airing of the final episode “The Last Dance” a newly released ESPN documentary—which has quickly become a viral phenomenon—centered around the player’s legacy and final season with the Chicago franchise in 1997-98.
“Air Jordan has an illustrious history within Nike’s portfolio, and we are pleased to honor Jordan’s important contribution to Nike” sad Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s Director of eCommerce Development. In 1984, the year Jordan entered the NBA, the scale of the Nike deal was unprecedented, and the young athlete was allegedly torn between Nike and competitor Adidas for a major brand partnership. In the first year, the edition brought in $126 million and has earned Jordan a reported $1.3 billion to date since the deal’s initiation.
The retro shoes were designed with the Chicago Bulls red, black and white scheme and featured a mid-rise ankle, an exclusive version not available to the public in its release. Another key aspect driving up the value is visible wear accumulated during Jordans’ court time.
The pair comes from the major collection of sneakers connoisseur, Jordan Geller—who founded the Las Vegas Shoezeum, an institution dedicated solely to historic footwear from his private collection. In a statement released ahead of the sale, Geller claimed the pair as “the most iconic and coveted sneakers of all time” adding “they were the crown jewel of the museum.” He attributed his decision to sell his collection’s gem to the success of last year’s sale of the record breaking 1972 Nike Waffle ‘Moon Shoe’, which sold for $437,500 at Sotheby’s. In Geller’s eyes, the sale placed Sotheby’s ahead of the competition— “leading the field in presenting sneakers as a serious collecting category.” The consignment also comes with the recent market hype for the edition, with resale prices of the iconic colorway doubling since the initial airing of the new docuseries.
The first edition of the sneaker was banned by the NBA commissioner in 1984 for a violation of the league’s s uniform standard. And in response, Nike produced a second version, later tagged as the Chicago Jordan 1— launching what would become one of the most popular items to come to the market in streetwear history.