Kanye West's Grammy-worn Nike Air Yeezy 1 Prototypes have sold for $1.8 million, beating out Michael Jordan's game-worn AJ1's to become the most expensive sneakers ever.
The $1.8 million price easily beats the previous record of $560,000, which was set by a pair of Nike Air Jordan 1s from 1985 that sold at auction last May. Before that, the title belonged to a pair of Nike Waffle Racing Flat “Moon Shoes” that sold for $437,500 in the fall of 2019.
This particular pair was designed by West and Mark Smith, and were worn by the rapper during a stirring performance of “Stronger” and “Hey Mama” at the 50th annual Grammys.
West won four Grammys that night, but eagle-eyed hypebeasts and sneakerheads were focused solely on the shoes as they frantically—and unsuccessfully—attempted to identify the silhouette on social media.
West and footwear guru Mark Smith co-created the size-12 shoes at Nike HQ's "Innovation Kitchen" lab in Beaverton, Oregon. The upper is comprised of soft black leather with perforated detailing, and the heel overlay is branded with a tonal Swoosh.
Other hallmark elements include the now-iconic Yeezy forefoot strap and signature "Y" medallion lace locks in bright pink. They're presented in a custom lasered wooden box featuring etching by Smith.
While Adidas currently makes West's sneakers, the Nike Air Yeezy I and II are considered are considered foundational to the Yeezy brand's trajectory.
Applied Art founder Ryan Chang, who is devoted to curating and collecting sneakers as fine art, said: "The Air Yeezy Prototype is particularly special to me because it captured the cultural moment in 2008 so perfectly. There he was, Kanye West, on stage at the Grammys, winning four awards just that evening, and unveiling an incredibly important and iconic design in Nike's storied history."
Brahm Wachter, the auction house’s head of Streetwear and Modern Collectibles, said after the historic sneaker sale: “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."
Rares announced that it will split ownership of the shoe into shares which its users will be able to buy and trade on its marketplace, set to launch this June.