The Virgil Abloh-designed Louis Vuitton Air Force 1 breaks a Sotheby’s record

The auction house reports the total sale for the 200-pair lot is now the highest-known record for a sneaker auction.

Virgil Abloh may no longer walk among us, but his shoes remain big ones to fill.

Famed auction house Sotheby’s reports its auction of 200 Abloh-designed Louis Vuitton x Nike Air Force 1s sold for over eight times their original estimated value of $3 million, with the $25.3 million total sale breaking an industry record for a sneaker and fashion auction.

Moreover, all of the proceeds will benefit the Virgil Abloh “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund, created to encourage and support Black talent in the fashion industry.

A view of the Louis Vuitton and Nike expression of the “Air Force 1” by Virgil Abloh last month in New York City. (Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

The specifics of the sale, as broken down by Hypebeast:

The lot of 200 pairs of sneakers achieved a total sale value that was eight times more than the auction’s overall $3 million USD high estimate. The feat marked the highest known public record for the most valuable sneaker and fashion auction. The auction was also labeled the most valuable charity at Sotheby’s in the past decade. One of the top blockbuster sales came from the first pair of sneakers, a size US 5 pair which reached a hammer price of $352,800 USD. The price it sold for was 23 times higher than its $15,000 USD estimate. The highest value shoe in the collection was a size US 9 which sold for $3.4 million USD across 26 lots. The most competitive sizing was for size US 8 which garnered over 1,400 bids while a size 11 shoe received the highest number of bids of 68.

Credit: Hypebeast

Further, the auction also broke a record for the most bidders at a Sotheby’s auction, with over 1,200 bidders angling to get their hands on a piece of Abloh’s legacy at Louis Vuitton. That included bidders from over 50 countries, with more than half the eventual buyers under the age of 40. Sotheby’s reports most pairs in the lot sold for over $100,000 each, again far exceeding the auction house’s initial estimates of $5,000 to $15,000 each.

The 200 pairs are among the now-dwindling remnants of Abloh’s artistic output in his too-brief career. Notably, the Damier print and LV-monogrammed Nikes, which also feature the trademark quotation marks he first made famous for Off-White, were created by the late designer as part of his Spring/Summer 2022 collection for Louis Vuitton. That collection is due to be shown in full during Paris Fashion Week on Feb. 28.

As Business of Fashion reports, “The auction featured one of those styles, sold directly by Louis Vuitton, and marked their first release. Each pair also comes with a bright orange Louis Vuitton pilot case that appeared in Abloh’s spring collection but is being sold exclusively in the auction.”

Abloh’s influence upon the auction isn’t only aesthetic. BoF further reports the artistic director was involved in directly organizing the auction prior to his death in Nov. 2021.

The outlet also notes that this auction’s sales further signify an increase in the appeal of luxury auctions to a younger demographic.

Maiysha Kai is Lifestyle Editor of theGrio, covering all things Black and beautiful. Her work is informed by two decades’ experience in the fashion and entertainment industries, a love of great books and aesthetics, and the indomitable brilliance of Black culture. She is also the editor of the YA anthology Body (Words of Change series).

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