On Monday, Sotheby’s revealed that the black Nike Air Yeezy 1 prototype sneakers Kanye West wore during his 2008 Grammy Awards performance were acquired by sneaker investment marketplace Rares for a record-breaking seven-figures, WWD reported. The whooping $1.8 million price tag makes them the most expensive pair of sneakers ever sold.
“We are thrilled to work with Sotheby’s on this acquisition,” Rares cofounder and chief executive officer Gerome Sapp said in a statement obtained by WWD. “Our goal in purchasing such an iconic shoe — and a piece of history — is to increase accessibility and empower the communities that birthed sneaker culture with the tools to gain financial freedom through Rares. We look forward to working with Sotheby’s to continue to identify rare finds that will help elevate, preserve and uphold sneaker culture.”
The two-toned high-top sneakers, designed by the rapper and Mark Smith, incorporate signature elements of both Yeezy and feature a forefoot strap as well as pink lace lock on the tongue. Although they were never released, West donned them when he performed “Stronger” and “Hey Mama” (a tribute to his late mother, Donna West) at the 50th annual awards show.
According to multiple reports, the prototype sneakers are the first pair to sell for over $1 million, significantly surpassing the previous record of $615,000 for a pair of Nike Air Jordan 1’s worn by basketball star Michael Jordan himself during a game.
Led by his sneaker and apparel business Yeezy, which is now in partnership with Adidas AG and Gap Inc., the business is valued between $3.2 billion and $4.7 billion by UBS Group AG.
The value of the new Gap collaboration with Yeezy, which is scheduled to hit stores this summer, “could be worth as much as $970 million of that total,” Bloomberg reported, citing a bank estimate.
The “Famous” rapper also has $122 million in cash and stock and $110 million from his music catalog, alongside $1.7 billion in other assets, including estranged wife Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS business. (Kardashian filed for divorce in mid-February.)
West currently has full ownership and creative control of the Yeezy brand by himself and previously signed a 10-year agreement to design and sell clothes under the Yeezy Gap label last year, Bloomberg added.
There, West will craft items for men, women and kids. The arrangement excludes footwear, however, as Yeezy’s partnership with Adidas lasts until 2026. Citing the document obtained by their outlet, Bloomberg noted that the new Gap line is expected “to break $150 million in sales in its first full year in 2022.”