In 1998, Michael Jordan laced up a pair of his iconic black and red Air Jordan 13s to bring home a Bulls victory during Game 2 of his final NBA championship — and now the sneakers are going on sale and expected to smash auction records.
Sotheby's in New York will offer up the game-winning sneakers next month, for a high estimate of $4 million, with open bidding to take place online from April 3 to 11. The current record from 2021 — a pair of Nike Air Ships that Jordan wore early in his career — is $1.47 million, which marked the first time a set of sneakers sold for more than $1 million.
The sale arrives during "Jordan Year" — a reference to the NBA star player's iconic jersey number 23. In January, Air Jordan partnered with Sotheby's to auction off 13 pairs of retro pairs of sneakers that were designed in memory of The Notorious B.I.G. All lots outsold their high estimates of $5,000 by multiples, with the highest selling for more than $32,000.
Last year, Jordan's Game 1 jersey, also from the 1998 finals, became the most expensive worn sports memorabilia to sell at auction when it fetched $10.1 million at a Sotheby's sale.
Jordan's farewell run with the Chicago Bulls is often referred to as "The Last Dance," after the title of an ESPN and Netflix documentary that chronicled the season.
Jordan announced his (second) retirement weeks before the finals, leading to the six-game series against the Utah Jazz becoming the most-watched in NBA history, based on Nielsen TV ratings. (Jordan would later return from 2001 to 2003 to play with the Washington Wizards, but did not win another championship).
"Michael Jordan game-worn sports memorabilia has proven time and time again to be the most elite and coveted items on the market," said Brahm Wachter, Sotheby's head of streetwear and modern collectables, in a press release. "However, items from his 'Last Dance' season are of a greater scale and magnitude as seen with our record-breaking sale of his Game 1 jersey in 2022."
The pair of sneakers going up for auction were worn during Game 2 in Salt Lake City, which the Bulls won 93-88 after losing Game 1, with Jordan scoring 37 points. They are the last pair of black and red Air Jordan 13 designs that Jordan ever wore on the court for an NBA game, a press release from Sotheby's noted.
Following Game 2, Jordan signed and gifted the set of worn shoes to the ball boy in the visitor's locker room, which he was known to do, according to Sotheby's
The Air Jordan 13 sneakers are part of a two-part sports memorabilia sale called "Victoriam," which feature items worn by athletes including Tom Brady, Kobe Bryant and Roger Federer as well as a Chicago Bulls Varsity Jacket, signed by the 2022-2023 team. The jacket comes from a new collaboration between the Bulls and Off-White, which was founded by Virgil Abloh, who died in 2021.
A public exhibition of memorabilia from the sale, including the Air Jordan 13 sneakers, will open April 5 at Sotheby's New York galleries.
Top image: The Air Jordan 13 sneakers signed by Michael Jordan.
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