This week, a pair of vintage Nike running shoes was sold at a Sotheby’s public auction for US$437,500 (approx. HK$3.4 million), when a collector splurged the heart-racing amount on what is known as the ‘Moon Shoe’. Nicknamed after the footprint it leaves (similar to those left on the moon), this rare pair of sneakers set a new world auction record for a pair of sneakers.
But why are they worth over HK$3 million?, I hear you asking. Well, the Nike Waffle Racing Flat was designed by Nike co-founder and acclaimed track coach Bill Bowerman for his runners at the 1972 Olympic Trials, and only 12 pairs were ever produced. Plus, this particular pair is the only known pair that exists in unworn condition. That’s right, they’ve never been worn: the less-than-perfect appearance is, presumably, just a by-product of ageing.
Smashing the pre-sale estimate of US$160,000 (approx. HK$1.25 million) out of the auction house, the sale also shattered the previous record for a pair of sneakers. In 2017, a pair of signed Converse shoes worn by basketball legend Michael Jordan in the 1984 Olympic basketball final fetched a healthy sum of US$190,373 (approx. HK$1.5 million).
The successful bidder was 61-year-old Canadian investor and entrepreneur Miles Nadal who had already spent US$850,000 (approx. HK$6.6 million) on 99 other pairs of unique and hard-to-find shoes in a private sale last week. Nadal said of his collectable shoe stock-up: “I am thrilled to acquire the iconic Nike ‘Moon Shoes,’ one of the rarest pairs of sneakers ever produced, and a true historical artefact in sports history and pop culture.”
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This was the first-ever auction dedicated to sneakers at Sotheby’s auction house in New York. Thanks to a collaboration with sneaker marketplace Stadium Goods, they were able to auction 100 pairs of the rarest sneakers ever produced, the results of which reflect how sneakers and streetwear culture are fast becoming the collectibles of choice. Sotheby’s global e-commerce head, Noah Wunsch, added that he was “eager to see where this sale takes us, not only in future sneaker offerings, but also in other new luxury lifestyle areas.”
Nadal’s shopping cart also consisted of the 2011 and 2016 editions of Back to the Future Part II Nike shoes that were inspired by the 1989 sci-fi sequel starring Michael J Fox. Other footwear purchases included limited-edition sneakers by sport brands Air Jordan and Adidas, as well as hip-hop rapper Kanye West’s Yeezys. He plans to display his entire private sneaker collection in his Toronto automobile museum.