Kanye West’s Nike Air Yeezy 1 prototype just sold for a massive AUD$2.3 million (USD$1.8 million), becoming the most expensive pair of sneakers in the world. In true Kanye fashion (he’s known for making a splash), Sotheby’s auction house has confirmed that the shoes surpassed its expected valuation of AUD$1.8 million (USD$1 million) to achieve the whopping feat.
West first debuted the shoes while performing an emotional mashup of “Stronger” and “Hey Mama” at the Grammys in 2008. The musician’s beloved momager, Donda West, who he regarded as the fuel behind his career had passed just three months before. Now, the size 12 prototype worn during his touching tribute to his mother has not only gone on to become an archive of West’s established Yeezy brand, but beat out the previous global shoe-purchasing record of AUD$789,000 (USD$615,000) for Michael Jordan’s 1985 game-worn Nike Air Jordan 1’s.
The shoes were acquired by RARES, a digital investing platform for rare footwear. Users of the RARES can buy and trade shares comparable to investors purchasing stocks, but instead for limited edition sneakers. “We are thrilled to work with Sotheby’s on this acquisition,” Gerome Sapp, RARES co-founder and chief executive officer, said in a statement per WWD. “Our goal in purchasing such an iconic shoe — and a piece of history — is to increase accessibility and empower the communities that birthed sneaker culture with the tools to gain financial freedom through RARES. We look forward to working with Sotheby’s to continue to identify rare finds that will help elevate, preserve and uphold sneaker culture.” If you’re interested in trying to snag the shoe, you can sign on here.
The burgeoning sneaker culture has increased the collectible status of shoes over the years. In 2019, Sotheby’s held its first auction dedicated entirely to footwear, a testament to its staggering value. “The sale speaks volumes of Kanye’s legacy as one of the most influential clothing and sneaker designers of our time, and of the Yeezy franchise he has built which has become an industry titan,” said Sotheby’s head of streetwear and collectibles Brahm Wachter. “Furthermore, it builds on the recent growth in Sotheby’s sneakers, which is now offered across our buy-now marketplace, auction, and private sales.”