Sotheby’s has ramped up its foray into new sales territories, such as sneakers and pop culture, with today’s announcement that the auction house set a new high for a pair of sneakers, sold privately for a record $1.8 million.
Several aspects of the sale are noteworthy, including that the black Nike sneakers were worn by Kanye West at the 2008 Grammy Awards, where he performed Hey Mama. The shoes, known as “Nike Air Yeezy,” are also reportedly the first pair of sneakers to break the $1 million mark.
The buyer has been identified as an investment platform known as Rares, which buys and flips sneakers and allows for fractional ownerships.
According to its website, Rares is “about getting in on the game. We have taken the concept of buying and flipping sneakers and evolved it. No longer do you have to wait in long lines outside stores, fight bots online, or pay crazy high prices to make money from the sneaker culture.”
Calling the shoes “one of the most prized and sought-after sneakers in existence,” Sotheby’s said the pair was consigned by Ryan Chang, a well-known sneaker collector and curator of a sneaker media company called Applied Arts.
“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,” said its founder and CEO, Gerome Sapp, in a statement.
The price of the Nike Air Yeezys nearly tripled the previous sneaker auction record. “The sale speaks volumes of Kanye’s legacy as one of the most influential clothing and sneaker designers of our time,” said Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectibles, “and of the Yeezy franchise he has built, which has become an industry titan.”
Wachter added that the sale builds on recent growth in the Sotheby’s sneakers category, which is now offered across its “Buy-Now” marketplace.
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