This transaction of Michael Jordan’s sneakers is regarded as the most price ever listed for sneakers in the public domain.
The most expensive sneakers ever to be sold at auction are the famous black and red Air Jordan 13s that Michael Jordan wore to help the Bulls win Game 2 of his final NBA championship in 1998.
The game-winning sneakers shattered the sneaker auction record of $1.47 million set in 2021 by a pair of Nike Air Ships that Jordan wore earlier in his career when they sold for $2.2 million on Tuesday at Sotheby’s in New York.
The sale takes place during “Jordan Year,” which alludes to the famous number 23 jersey worn by the NBA hero. Thirteen pairs of vintage Air Jordans created in honor of The Notorious B.I.G. were put up for auction in January through a partnership between Air Jordan and Sotheby’s. Every lot sold for multiples of their $5,000 high expectations; the highest lot sold for over $32,000.
Jordan’s Game 1 jersey from the 1998 Finals, which sold for $10.1 million at a Sotheby’s auction last year, made history as the most expensive piece of worn sports memorabilia to ever be sold at auction.
Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls is commonly known as “The Last Dance,” a reference to the name of the season-long ESPN and Netflix documentary. Weeks before the NBA Finals, Jordan announced his (second) retirement, making the six-game series against the Utah Jazz the most watched in NBA history according to Nielsen TV ratings. (Jordan would subsequently return, but he did not win another title, to play with the Washington Wizards from 2001 to 2003).
Pictured on June 5, 1998, during the NBA Finals at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, is Michael Jordan donning the record-breaking sneakers.
Before the auction, Brahm Wachter, head of Sotheby’s streetwear and modern collectibles division, stated in a news statement that “Michael Jordan game-worn sports memorabilia has proven time and time again to be the most elite and coveted items on the market.” “But as evidenced by our record-breaking sale of his Game 1 jersey in 2022, goods from his ‘Last Dancing’ season are of a bigger scale and magnitude.”
The Bulls won Game 2 in Salt Lake City, 93-88, after losing Game 1, with Jordan scoring 37 points. The pair of sneakers that were sold on Tuesday were worn during that game. According to a press release from Sotheby’s, they are the final black and red Air Jordan 13s that Jordan ever donned during an NBA game.
As he was known to do, Jordan signed and gave the pair of worn sneakers to the ball boy in the visitor’s locker room after Game 2.
In the “Victoriam” sports memorabilia sale, which included pieces worn by players like Roger Federer, Tom Brady, and Kobe Bryant, the Air Jordan 13 sneakers took center stage. The two-part auction featured a number of other Jordan treasures, with a 1998 Bulls game-worn jersey and a pair of 1985 Air Jordan 1s selling for $508,000 and $127,000, respectively.
Additional high-priced lots included a shooting shirt signed by Kobe Bryant from the Los Angeles Lakers, which brought in over $406,000, and a soccer jersey worn by the late Pelé at his 1975 New York Cosmos debut, which brought in over $177,000.