Kanye West’s 2008 Grammy shoes auctioned for a record $1.8 million

Prior to the sale, the record for a sneaker purchase was held by a pair of '85 Jordan 1s that Michael Jordan wore during a preseason game in Italy.

Used clothes and shoes typically sell for discounted prices, but items worn by music icons on prestigious stages make record-breaking sales. A pair of prototype Nikes worn by Kanye West just broke the record for a pair of sneakers ever sold.

According to The Guardian, the sneakers worn by West during the 2008 Grammy Awards have been auctioned off for over $1 million. The Nike Air Yeezy 1 officially sold for $1.8m during a SOTHEBY’s private sale and are the first sneaker to be sold for this amount. Rares, a sneaker investment marketplace, purchased the shoe. 

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Besides making history as the first pair of athletic footwear to be sold at the million-dollar mark, the purchase also made history as the highest publicly recorded price for a sneaker sale. Prior to the sale, the record for a sneaker purchase was held by a pair of ’85 Jordan 1s that Michael Jordan wore during a preseason game in Italy, where he famously shattered the backboard. That pair of shoes sold for $615,000.

50th Annual Grammy Awards - Show
LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 10: Musician Kanye West performs onstage during the 50th annual Grammy awards held at the Staples Center on February 10, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

The outlet reported that West and Mark Smith created the prototype for the rare sneaker together. The pair is a size 12 and is designed with soft black leather, the Yeezy forefoot strap, and the signature “Y” medallion lace locks in bright pink.

“We are thrilled with the result, which has nearly tripled the highest price on record,” Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectibles, said in a statement. “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.”

According to SOTHEBY’s, the shoes were created exclusively for West. When the rapper wore the sneakers during his performance of “Hey Mama” and “Stronger” during the 50th Annual Grammy Awards, the world became aware of the partnership between Kanye and Nike, marking West’s ascension in the streetwear fashion industry.

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“This pair is critical to the development of the Yeezy franchise, which has become one of the most important sneakers and lifestyle brands in history,” said Wachter. “Debuted on-stage at the Grammys in 2008, the sneakers set off waves in the sneaker community as people tried to identify the mysterious pair. Afterward, we saw a series of collaborations between Kanye and Nike, and then later the birth of his line with Adidas.” 

Ryan Chang, a collector and curator, commented: “As a collector, I’ve always considered sneakers to be design objects – a physical confluence of artistry, history, and in this case, music. 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 4 awards just that evening, and unveiling an incredibly important and iconic design in Nike’s storied history.”

Fast Company Innovation Festival - Day 3
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 07: Kanye West speaks on stage at the “Kanye West and Steven Smith in Conversation with Mark Wilson” at the on November 07, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Fast Company)

The monumental sale is only one example of Kanye West’s fashion endeavors bringing in big bucks. theGrio reported the Chicago-bred artist was tapped to design a special shirt in collaboration with the luxury fashion house Balenciaga in the late DMX’s image to benefit the family. 

On Sunday, TMZ reported that the $200 shirts sold out within 24 hours over the weekend. The net profits from the shirts, which feature the likeness of the rap artist and text that says “In Loving Memory,” will be given to Simmons’ family.

The long-sleeved black sweatshirt features the “Party Up” rapper’s birth date and day of death on the sleeves. The front of the shirt has DMX’s image with two crosses on the side of each shoulder and his stage name stylized in the font style known to his brand.

West, who was present at DMX’s televised “Celebration of Life” service, worked with artist and designer Akeem Smith on the striking half pyramid and inverted pyramid stage set-up, which showcased a montage of family photos and videos of Simmons. West’s Sunday Service Choir also performed numerous songs at the ceremony.

This article contains additional reporting by theGrio’s Sytonia Reid.

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