Michael Jordan sneakers sell for $560,000 at Sotheby's auction

The vintage 1985 pair — in the iconic white, black and red of the Chicago Bulls — were worn by the NBA legend during his rookie season.
Image: A pair of 1985 Nike Air Jordan 1s, made for and worn by U.S. basketball player Michael Jordan
A pair of 1985 Nike Air Jordan 1s, made for and worn by U.S. basketball player Michael Jordan, sold for a record $560,000 at Sotheby's New York.Sotheby's / Reuters

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By Luke Denne

Michael Jordan was no stranger to smashing records during his basketball career, and a pair of his signed, game-worn Air Jordan sneakers just set a new one after selling for $560,000 at auction in New York.

The vintage 1985 pair — in the iconic white, black and red of the Chicago Bulls — were worn by the NBA legend during his rookie season in Chicago and brought to auction at Sotheby's by a private collector.

The sale — coming 35 years after the release of the first Air Jordan — coincided with the final episodes of the smash-hit ESPN documentary series "The Last Dance," which tells the story of Jordan's career and his final championship with the Bulls.

Ten bidders across four continents competed for the coveted sneakers in an online auction that lasted 10 days, Sotheby's said in a press release. A bidding war in the final 20 minutes pushed the price up over $300,000, the auction house said, meaning the sold price far exceeded the $150,000 estimate.

The 1985 Nike Air Jordan 1s — in the red, black and white of the Chicago Bulls — are signed by the legendary player.Sotheby's / Reuters

Jordan wore mismatched shoes for most of his career and so the sneakers are in different sizes. The left comes in at size 13 and the right a 13.5.

The Air Jordan 1 is credited with kick-starting the craze of sneaker culture in the NBA and turned Nike — then a small company — into a global household name. The sneaker became so popular that Nike continues to release new Jordans to this day despite the player's final NBA game having taken place over 17 years ago.

The huge success of the shoe spurred other NBA players to tie up deals for their own branded shoes. Some of the most popular shoes on the market today carry the names of present-day greats LeBron James, Steph Curry and James Harden.

The record-breaking price tag surpasses the $437,500 set just last year at Sotheby's for the Nike Waffle Racing Flat "Moon Shoe." Only about 12 pairs of the Moon Shoe were ever made, with fewer still known to be in existence, Sotheby's reported at the time.

Brahm Wachter, Sotheby's Director of eCommerce Development, said that the "strong international bidding from six countries on four continent shows not only the incredible appeal of Michael Jordan as one of the most recognizable and legendary athletes of all time, but also that sneaker collecting is truly a global and growing market."