A pair of Nikes worn by NBA legend Michael Jordan sold for $1.47 million this weekend — setting a record for sneakers bought at an auction.
The autographed Nike Air Ships worn by Jordan in his fifth NBA game on Nov. 1, 1984, were scooped up Sunday at an auction in Las Vegas by Nick Fiorella, a high-end sports memorabilia collector, Sotheby’s said in a statement.
“To present such a groundbreaking and important pair of sneakers at this special auction in Las Vegas further solidifies the strength and broad reach of the sneaker collecting community,” Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectibles, said in a statement to The Post.
The “record-breaking” sale affirmed No. 23 and the Air Jordan franchise as the “pinnacle of the sneaker market,” Wachter said.
The game-worn, size 13 Nikes – the earliest known kicks Jordan ever donned in an NBA contest – were expected to fetch as much as $1.5 million.
But the sneakers set records for becoming the first to sell for more than a $1 million at an auction and as the second most valuable pair ever – behind only a pair of Kanye West’s “Grammy Worn” Nike Air Yeezy 1 prototypes that sold for $1.8 million in a private sale in April, Sotheby’s said.
While a rookie in 1984, Jordan gave the sneakers after the game to a Denver Nuggets ball boy, Tommie Tim III Lewis, who kept them in “excellent” condition until this year, according to Sotheby’s.
The auction house said the kicks are a “remarkable artifact” because Nike’s now-famous Air Jordan 1 weren’t ready in time for the 1984 season that year, so the apparel giant sent the Chicago Bulls star a few pairs of specially crafted Air Ships – some of which had “Air Jordan” or “Nike Air” printed on the heels.
“Unlike other versions that have surfaced at market before, this pair just say ‘Air,’ which is visible in picture from the game on November 1, 1984,” Sotheby’s said in a statement.
Jordan’s black and red Air Ships were later banned by the NBA in February 1985 for violating the league’s uniform policy, Sotheby’s said. Nike, in turn, created an ad campaign featuring the first Air Jordans while telling fans that that league couldn’t stop them from wearing them off the court.
The Air Ship, designed by Bruce Kilgore, was originally released in 1984 and was the first basketball shoe worn by Jordan in the NBA.
Sunday’s sale easily eclipsed the previous auction record for a pair of sneakers: $615,000 for a game-worn pair of 1985 Air Jordan 1s sold last year during an auction by Christie’s.