Earlier today, Sotheby’s kicked off a two-week online auction of over 100 choice Nike products, including shoes, accessories, and the sneakerhead’s Holy Grail: prototypes. Dubbed “fifty,” the sale is pegged to the powerhouse sneaker brand’s 50th anniversary.
There are two batches of highlights, one chosen by Sotheby’s and the second selected by one-time Nike collaborator and Super Bowl champion Victor Cruz. A collector himself, Cruz is the proud owner of over 300 pairs of shoes adorned with the famous swoosh.
“Sneakers are culturally relevant pieces of art and timestamps that bring us back to different moments and memories in our lives,” Cruz said in a statement.
Shoe collecting has permeated the art market, with top-tier auction houses sweating over who can reel in millennials with disposable income.
Easily the MVP among Cruz’s picks is a pair of Nike x Louis Vuitton Air Force 1s and a Pilot Case (size 11). Designed in partnership with Louis Vuitton’s enigmatic creative director Virgil Abloh, who died in 2021, the shoes combine the DNA of Nike’s most popular sneaker with the Louis Vuitton’s insignia. The Air Force 1s come with an estimate of $150,000–$200,000.
Cruz also singled out a rare promo sample of Nike’s Air Jordan 3 Retro Nipsey Hussle ‘Victory Lap’ (size 12). These were made to commemorate the late rapper’s first studio album, which was released in 2018. “Nipsey had a huge influence on me, not just for his music, but for his ideas and the way he went about his life and what he represented,” Cruz said. “He was always trying to bring his community forward, so I wanted to pay tribute to him by having this shoe as part of the auction.”
The most exciting pair, at least in terms of the historically inclined, is the 1972 Moon Shoe ($80,000–$120,000). This pair of running shoes was designed by Nike cofounder and Oregon University track coach Bill Bowerman, and hand-cobbled by one of Nike’s first employees, Geoff Hollister. Per Sotheby’s, “Due to the handmade quality, each pair is irregular and one of a kind.”
The waffle soles were Nike’s first major innovation, and the Moon Shoes were given that moniker because the pattern left in the dirt resembled the tracks left by Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin after they became the first people to walk in the moon. Nike’s name isn’t printed on either shoe, making the swooshes the only sign that they belong to sneaker history.