NEW YORK (AFP) – Sotheby’s announced on Wednesday that an auction of 200 pairs of the Louis Vuitton and Nike ‘Air Force 1’ sneaker created by late United States (US) designer Virgil Abloh had fetched a total of USD25 million.
A spokesman for the auction house told AFP that the most paid for one of the pairs was more than USD350,000 during the online sale that ran from January 26 to February 8.
The sums greatly exceed the initial estimates of Sotheby’s, which had started the bidding at USD2,000 and had predicted they would sell for between USD5,000 and USD15,000 a pair.
In the end, the sneakers, which ranged in size from five to 18, averaged more than USD100,000 per shoe. The cheapest sold for just over USD75,000.
The special edition sneaker, made of calf leather, was originally created for Louis Vuitton’s spring-summer men’s collection for 2022, of which Abloh was artistic director.
Abloh, a multi-talented DJ, architect and designer died in November at the age of 41 following a private battle with cancer.
A close associate of Kanye West, Abloh was the first Black American to be named creative director of a top French fashion house and brought streetwear and a less elitist approach to the world of luxury.
The brown, white and cream-colored sneakers boast Nike’s famous swoosh logo plus Louis Vuitton’s recognisable monogram and damier motifs.
They were created to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Nike Air Force 1, which was designed in 1982.
The auction, held exclusively online, began just six days after the presentation of Abloh’s last Vuitton collection in Paris in front of an emotional audience.
The market for rare sports shoes is soaring, with sneakers having transformed into major collector’s items that have recently been snatched up for tens of thousands of dollars.
In search of a facelift and new clientele, big names in luxury such as Dior and LVMH have partnered with sports and streetwear brands to create athletic footwear.
According to Sotheby’s, more than 1,200 potential buyers from more than 50 countries participated in the auction. More than half of those who successfully purchased a pair of shoes were under age 40 and collectors in Asia represented 40 per cent of final buyers.