Who’s the World’s Richest Sneakerhead? When These Finals-Worn Air Jordans Are Sold We May Find Out.

The shoes might be falling apart, but that probably won’t stop someone from buying them

Person wearing a pair of Air Jordan 1's
The six Finals-worn Air Jordans up for sale at Sotheby's are expected to fetch eight figures
Paul Volkmer at Unsplash

Soon someone will have the chance to prove they’re perhaps the world’s biggest — and richest — sneakerhead. Six Nike Air Jordan sneakers, worn by Michael Jordan during the championship-clinching contests of each of his NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls, are up for sale.

Sotheby’s is offering the shoes to prospective buyers on behalf of an unnamed private owner, according to Bloomberg. His Airness first gifted the footwear — individual sneakers, by the way, not pairs — to a Bulls public relations employee named Tim Hallam. The 1991 shoe features Jordan’s signature in gold ink and an inscription saying “To Tim.”

“The shoes are in varying condition,” Bloomberg reports. “Some of the polyurethane on the shoes has disintegrated over time, which could be repaired should the buyer choose.”

What will these crumbling sneakers cost? Eight figures might not surprise those in and around the sports collectibles industry. A pair of shoes Jordan wore during his 1984 rookie season sold for $1.47 million, setting an auction record in 2021. In a September Sotheby’s auction, a jersey Jordan donned in the ’98 Finals fetched $10.1 million. 

All these numbers only begin to quantify the enormous growth in the sports collectibles industry of late. Fox Business recently reported that the global sports collectibles market was valued at $412 billion in 2021. It’s projected to reach $692.4 billion by 2032. 

An estimated 202-percent growth in NFT collectibles across 2022 alone is expected to help buoy that kind of rise. Old-school printed sports cards are also exploding in value. 

“Sports Cards is fast becoming its own legitimate alternative asset class,” Geoff Wilson, founder of Sports Card Investor, told Forbes in November, soon after a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card sold for $12.6 million, a record for the category. “The next generation of investors in the US want to invest in things that have meaning to them or that they have a personal connection with; it’s why you’ve seen the rise of social entrepreneurship. I believe the same sentiment is driving the current boom in sports card collecting.”

The six Air Jordans, dubbed “The Dynasty Collection,” are currently on display in Dubai. Sotheby’s has shown them to clients in New York and London, and will bring them to Hong Kong and Singapore, before they make another trip back to NYC. The company expects the sneakers to sell sometime this year. 

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