The sneakers fell through the donation chute as did the old shirts, pants and coats that were regularly donated to the Portland Rescue Mission.
But these sneakers were different. They were a striking metallic gold with a Nike Swoosh. One heel was adorned with the logo of 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, Spike Lee's production company.
“Normally, clothing is delivered very quickly,” said Erin Holcomb, director of staff ministries at Portland Rescue Mission, which provides services such as food and shelter to homeless people and those struggling with addiction in Portland, Oregon. But the staff members suspected that these shoes were special and put them aside.
The shoes, Nike Air Jordan Retro 3s, turned out to be of a specific variety called “Spike Lee Oscars.” Lee debuted the shoes in 2019 and wore them to the Oscars when he and his co-writer won best adapted screenplay for the film “BlacKkKlansman.”
The shoes were not released to the public and only a handful were made.
The pair in Portland were donated in April. and one auction house says it's worth more than $10,000.
“I don't think anyone on staff was a sneakerhead,” Ms. Holcomb said. “We Googled it and it was pretty clear what they were. But we thought there was no way; They must be replicas or imitations.”
Staff members took the shoes to a sneaker resale store for appraisal. “They took them out the back,” Holcomb said. “They were gone for a long time.”
When the store employees returned, they got a surprise: the sneakers were real. (The store offered to buy them on the spot, Holcomb said, an offer that was rejected.)
The organization then contacted Tinker Hatfield, the famous Nike sneaker designer behind every Air Jordan from the 3 to the 15. He also confirmed that they were authentic, adding that only four or five pairs of the Oscar Retro Spike had ever been created. Read. Hatfield also signed a box he provided to help increase its value.
Donations with the potential to generate a windfall are not common at Portland Rescue Mission. “I've been here for 17 years,” Ms. Holcomb said. “We have never resold anything.”
Now, Sotheby's is selling the sneakers on behalf of the organization in an auction that runs through Monday, with an estimated sale of between $15,000 and $20,000. On Friday morning, the highest bid was $7,000.
While major auction houses are primarily considered places to buy high-ticket art and antiques, collectibles, wine, memorabilia, and, yes, sneakers have also been known to go up for auction.
Sneakers “represent an accessible entry point into a world that is nevertheless rarefied, and that is why I think we are seeing this market continue to grow, and today's collectors, particularly in the sports sector luxury, are generally less than 40 years old,” said Eric LiBassi of Sotheby's. Specialist in streetwear and modern collectibles.
“Nike and its subsection of Jordan Brand have certainly dominated the primary and resale markets over the years,” he said.
For example, the Air Jordan 13 that Michael Jordan wore in the second game of the 1998 NBA Finals, featured in the documentary “The Last Dance,” sold for $2.2 million this year, setting a new record. worldwide, LiBassi said.
As for the sneakers found at the Portland Rescue Mission, “it's kind of weird to see another logo on a pair of Jordans,” he said, “so seeing Spike's 40 Acres and a Mule logo on the heel is a Interesting touch and another unusual distinction. .”
So who was the benefactor or benefactors? And did they know what they were getting rid of? “We have no idea who donated them,” Holcomb said. “It's a real mystery to us.”
In the unlikely event that a buyer wants to wear the five-figure sneakers in a casual game: They're a size 12½.
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