Marking a new world record for a pair of sneakers ever sold, Sotheby’s announces today that sneaker investing platform RARES has acquired the Kanye West ‘Grammy Worn’ Nike Air Yeezy 1 Prototypes from 2008 for a record-breaking $1.8 million via private sale. The price sets a new milestone for a publicly recorded sneaker sale, shattering the current auction record for sneakers by almost three times, and establishes the Yeezy 1 Prototypes as the most valuable sneakers ever and the first recorded sneaker sale for more than $1 million.
The groundbreaking and unprecedented sale continues Sotheby’s track record as a pioneer and the leading global auction house in sneaker sales. Since Sotheby’s inaugural dedicated sneaker sale in 2019, in which a pair of Nike Waffle Shoes sold for $437,500 and established a new auction record at the time, Sotheby’s has set several additional benchmarks for the category, including the sale of Nike Air Jordan 1s in May 2020 for $560,000, a record at the time, as well as setting additional auction records for adidas and Louis Vuitton sneakers.
A first of its kind fractional ownership and sneaker investing marketplace, RARES allows users to invest in sneakers by buying and trading shares in them.
Worn during Kanye’s memorable and emotional performance of Hey Mama and Stronger during the 50th Annual Grammy Awards, the present pair unveiled Nike’s top-secret project and marked one of the most brilliant reveals in sneaker history: and made the Yeezy a pillar in the advent of modern sneaker culture. One of the most prized and sought-after sneakers in existence, the pair was on offer from Ryan Chang, renowned sneaker collector and curator of @applied.arts.nyc.
Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s Head of Streetwear & Modern Collectables, said: “We are thrilled with the result, which has nearly tripled the highest price on record. 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. Furthermore, it builds on the recent growth in Sotheby’s sneakers, which is now offered across our Buy-Now marketplace, auction, and private sales.”
Gerome Sapp, CEO & Co-Founder of RARES, commented: “We are thrilled to work with Sotheby’s on this acquisition. 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.”
Ryan Chang, Consignor, Collector and Curator (@applied.arts.nyc), said: “I loved having this pair in my collection, and have always admired its significance as a cultural artifact. I’m so grateful that this iconic piece is going into good hands courtesy of Sotheby’s.”
KANYE WEST ‘GRAMMY WORN’ NIKE AIR YEEZY 1 PROTOTYPES
For more than a year prior to the reveal, rumors swirled that a Kanye sneaker was in development. In one of the most brilliant and hyped reveals in sneaker history, Nike and Kanye revealed during the rapper’s 2008 Grammy’s performance a pair of sneakers that even top aficionados could not identify – the only clue was a Swoosh. The sneaker world erupted in a frenzy, as blogs and social media lit up across a community eager to learn about the new design.
Created exclusively for Kanye, the present pair introduced the Nike Yeezy to the world, redefining what a signature shoe could be. The Air Yeezy was an entirely new silhouette – created for an artist rather than an athlete, and paved the way for many of the artist collaborations of today. Though Kanye West’s Yeezy brand has partnered with adidas since 2013, the Nike Air Yeezy I and Air Yeezy II are considered to be foundational to the trajectory of the Yeezy empire.
Kanye wore the present pair during a critical moment in his career in both music and fashion. In addition to giving one of the most memorable performances ever at the Grammy’s and winning in four categories (including Best Rap Album), the 50th Annual Grammy Awards is considered to be a critical moment in the history of footwear, and its intersection with entertainment. Today, the multibillion-dollar adidas Yeezy brand is an industry titan.
The Kanye West & Mark Smith designed samples were built in Nike’s lab – known as the ‘Innovation Kitchen’ – at the company’s headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon in 2007. The size 12 shoe is made of soft black leather with perforated detailing throughout the upper, and the heel overlay is branded with a tonal Swoosh. The design features the iconic Yeezy forefoot strap and signature ‘Y’ medallion lacelocks in bright pink. A custom lasered wooden box is included, which features a design and etching by the Yeezy 1 creator, Mark Smith.
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