With the market for sneakers on the rise, Sotheby’s has revealed plans to sell 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 sale will take place on the house’s website, and the piece of sports history comes with an estimate of $100,000–$150,000, with bidding open to prospective buyers starting on May 8. Bidding will run through May 15, to coincide with the airing of the last episode of ESPN’s documentary The Last Dance, focused on the Chicago Bulls’s 1997–98 season.
The iconic sneakers were designed and produced by Nike in 1985, and were made exclusively for Jordan before being released to the public in an unprecedented endorsement at the beginning of Jordan’s career, paving the way for future shoe campaigns by basketballs stars. In 1984, the year Jordan entered the NBA, the scale of the Nike deal was unprecedented, and the young athlete was reportedly torn between Nike and competitor Adidas for a major brand partnership. In the first year, the edition brought in $126 million, and it has earned Jordan a reported $1.3 billion to date since the deal’s initiation.
The first edition of the sneaker was banned by the NBA commissioner in 1984 for a violation of the league’s s uniform standard. 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.
“Air Jordan has an illustrious history within Nike’s portfolio, and we are pleased to honor Jordan’s important contribution to Nike,” said Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s director of e-commerce development.
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. Claiming the pair as “the most iconic and coveted sneakers of all time,” Geller said in a statement that the sneakers 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.