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  • Press release
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  • New York
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  • For immediate release
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  • 2 June 2021

Original Air Takes Flight: The Evolution and Influence of Air Jordan Sneakers

The Largest Sneaker Auction Ever Held at Christie's in Partnership with Stadium Goods

Preview at Christie's New York: June 4-9 and June 9-30
Online Browsing: starting June 4
Bidding: June 22-30

Original Development SampleNIKE, 1985-86 Size 10, High-Top $120,000-160,000 | £85,000-110,000 | €98,000-130,000

Original Development Sample
NIKE, 1985-86
Size 10, High-Top
$120,000-160,000 | £85,000-110,000 | €98,000-130,000

Air Jordan 1 High “Black/Red,” Original Salesman Sample NIKE, 1984 9 High-Top $22,000-25,000 | £16,000-18,000 | €18,000-20,000

Air Jordan 1 High “Black/Red,” Original Salesman Sample NIKE, 1984
9 High-Top
$22,000-25,000 | £16,000-18,000 | €18,000-20,000

New York – Christie's and Stadium Goods are pleased to announce their second partnered online auction: Original Air Takes Flight: The Evolution and Influence of Air Jordan Sneakers. Early highlights are available to browse in the dedicated online viewing room beginning June 2 with full sale live on Christies.com beginning June 4. The full selection will be exhibited at Christie’s New York from June 4-9 followed by an additional viewing of select highlights from June 9-30. The sale is open for bidding from June 22-30.

Arguably the most influential athlete of all time, Michael Jordan carries a legacy that still resonates both on and off the court. With 90 pairs of sneakers, "Original Air Part II" features a comprehensive look at Jordan's impact through footwear, featuring game-worn sneakers, samples and prototypes from the Air Jordan brand's beginnings, rare exclusives, and pairs worn by Jordan's teammates and competitors. Beginning with his game-changing Rookie of Year season, through multiple championships, pop culture crossover, and on to his continuing impact via projects like “The Last Dance,” Michael Jordan continues to exert an indelible imprint on sport, fashion, and pop culture. This auction captures the essence of that legacy through a comprehensive offering of historic footwear memorabilia.

The offering begins with early development prototypes and sample pairs that were critical in shaping the “DNA” of the Air Jordan brand. The collection is led by a selection of rare and pristine original 1985 Air Jordan 1s, including the mythical 1985 Air Jordan 1 Metallics, and for the first-time ever, a complete set of original Air Jordans 1-14. Rare Jordan brand samples from more recent years such as the Air Jordan 1 “Royal” in a Lunar Wedge format, and a 1-of-1 Air Jordan 4 in white with black mesh complete the overview of Jordan Brands roots.

Pairs exclusive to and worn by Michael Jordan himself such as the Air Jordan 11 “Concord,” Air Jordan 12 “Taxi,” Air Jordan 13 “He Got Game,” and Air Jordan 17 comprise another section of the auction. Pairs worn and autographed by his teammates (BJ Armstrong), and competitors (Charles Barkley), and even a pair worn by Jordan on the golf course (an all-white Air Jordan 11) add more dimensions to the overall Jordan Brand story, alongside a handful of rare player exclusives and samples created for prominent universities (UNC, Michigan, Georgetown), ranging from the early Air Jordan 1 model to the Air Jordan 22.

Original Air Part II also offers a selection of items from other professional athletes across multiple sports, some of whom were on Team Jordan themselves, including Derek Jeter, Russell Westbrook, Ray Allen, and Jimmy Butler. The direct impact Jordan had on younger star players entering the league is undeniable, and Original Air offers a handful of pairs from those who modeled not only their game but also their personal sneaker style after Jordan, such as LeBron James.

Over the years Jordan Brand expanded its imprint with high profile collaborations with musicians like Eminem and Drake. Original Air Part II includes several rare samples from those partnerships, as well as highly coveted and scarce commemorative releases such as the Air Jordan 1 “Colette,” the Air Jordan 16 “Veterans Day” and “Board of Governors,” and an Air Jordan 7 “Hare” sample featuring rare crocodile-textured panels.

From rare early samples and originals, to iconic pop culture and commemorative special releases, Original Air Part II offers something for everyone and anyone passionate about the journey of Michael Jordan and his footwear legacy.

Pictured Top Left:

This pair is presumed to be a one-of-a-kind piece of Nike sneaker history, in the form of a development sample from the 1985-87 era. The shoes capture key design elements of the Nike Air Python, Nike Air Force 2, Air Jordan 1, and Air Jordan 2, shoes. Released in 1986, The Air Jordan 2 ultimately looked almost nothing like this sample however, indicating that this pair is likely from the early experimentation phases of Nike basketball shoe development during that time period. The sole unit of this sample resembles the sole of the Nike Air Python from 1986, as well as the Nike Air Force 2 from 1986, which was the second iteration of the famous Air Force 1. The finished Air Jordan 2 sole is similar in shape and height to the Air Force 2 sole. The design of the leather ankle panels at the collar are very similar in appearance to the same area of the Air Jordan 1. Although quite primitive in appearance, this is an exceptional representation of Nike sneaker history.

Pictured Top Right:

The “rookie card” of Air Jordan 1s. Not just any original pair of the Air Jordan 1 Highs in the iconic black-and-red or “Bred” colorway, this incredibly rare pair is a salesman’s sample of the Air Jordan 1, intended to be used by a Nike rep to sell Michael Jordan’s first signature shoe to sporting goods and footwear stores in 1985. Looking back now, it’s hard to imagine there was ever a time when a retailer would have to be convinced to carry Air Jordans. From one of the earliest production runs of the Jordan 1, this pair was assembled in 1984, as denoted by the production code on the inner collar of the shoe that begins with “84.” Pairs of the Air Jordan 1 sold at retail have a production code that begins with “85.” The full code on this pair reads “841201-TYSS,” with “SS” denoting that it is a pre-production “Salesman Sample.” The pair comes with an equally rare vintage brown leather Nike-branded briefcase, as well as a vintage Nike catalog from 1985 that includes the Air Jordan 1. While it has not been definitively determined that these items accompanied this specific sample shoe, the briefcase comes from one of the brand’s earliest "EKINs" (Nike spelled backwards) a product specialist who toured the country educating retailers and consumers about Nike products. This pair is a sample size men’s 9, and is in lightly worn condition, as it may have been tried on by employees and customers at various sporting goods stores in 1985.

Early highlights are available to browse starting June 2. Visit the sale page, live for browsing from June 4.
Press images can be downloaded here.

About Christie’s

Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvador Mundi, 2017), for a single collection sale (the Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller, 2018), and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019).

Christie’s Private Sales offers a seamless service for buying and selling art, jewellery and watches outside of the auction calendar, working exclusively with Christie’s specialists at a client’s individual pace.

Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats. 

Christie’s is dedicated to advancing responsible culture throughout its business and communities worldwide, including achieving sustainability through net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and actively using its platform in the art world to amplify under-represented voices and support positive change.

Browse, bid, discover, and join us for the best of art and luxury at: www.christies.com or by downloading Christie’s apps. The COVID-related re-opening status of our global locations is available here.