The Lamen

A neon sign for Air Jordans,


by | Apr 13, 2023




A pair of Air Jordans worn by Michael Jordan became the most expensive sneakers ever sold, bringing in an astounding $2.2 billion at a Sotheby’s online auction.

  • The pair of Air Jordan XIII ‘Breds’ (for ‘black and red’) are, according to Sotheby’s accompanying note, “the only complete pair of sneakers worn by Michael [Jordan] in an NBA Finals game,” donned during the 1998 “Last Dance” NBA finals season.
  • Dubbed “The Last Dance,” the 1997-1998 season was Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls — when the legendary basketball player was at the pinnacle of his fame.

Michael Jordan’s legendary career and his final Bulls season inspired the mini docu-series produced by ESPN and Netflix titled “The Last Dance.”


While the sale did set a record, the final price barely cleared the low-end estimation, indicating that the market has not necessarily recovered from the pandemic.

  • The previous known record was held by a pair of Nike Air Yeezy 1s worn by Ye, which were sold for $1.8 million in a private sale in 2021.
  • The sneakers were auctioned with an estimate of $2 million to $4 million adjoined with an “irrevocable bid,” meaning that the auction house had already had some buyer submit a bid for an undisclosed amount.
  • “Today’s record-breaking result further proves that the demand for Michael Jordan sports memorabilia continues to outperform and transcend all expectations,” said Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectibles.
  • Jordan’s career has been back into the public spotlight with “Air,” which portrays the events leading to the athlete eventually signing his deal with Nike.

The global pandemic had a positive impact on the sports collectibles and memorabilia industry, as the lockdowns reinvigorated hobbyists while giving many others something to stick to.

  • Expected to reach $227.2 billion by 2023, the global sports memorabilia market is becoming one of the hottest emerging industries in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East, reported Market Decipher.
  • A huge boom in the trading card industry came as a result of the rising interest during the COVID-19 pandemic, even skyrocketing the prices of Pokémon trading cards by more than 500 percent year-over-year.

Even though Air Jordans have been a major collector’s item, the sports memorabilia industry has diversified immensely over the last couple of years.

Zooming out: Auction houses have reported huge demands thanks to this booming demand, with a slew of records being created to be broken only in the span of a few months.

  • Diego Maradona’s jersey worn during the controversial “Hand of God” goal was sold for $9.8 million last May – setting the record for the highest price ever for auctioned sports memorabilia.
  • The record was broken only a few months later when a mint condition 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card sold for $12.6 million in August.
  • Another big sale came when a Michael Jordan 1998 game-worn jersey sold for $10.09 million in 2022 – over twice its estimated value at the time.

People stand in online queues to simply bid on or scavenge for such rare gems, especially since the sports trading card industry seeks to outperform NFTs, cryptocurrencies, and the S&P 500.