Air Jordan 1 prototypes sell for $325k at auction

Shoes were not photo-matched, but appear to be custom ordered for Michael Jordan

Cover Image for Air Jordan 1 prototypes sell for $325k at auction
The shoes feature "Air Jordan" in text, not the Wings logo, which was later added. (Credit: Grey Flannel)

A pair of Air Jordan 1s sold for $325,085 at Grey Flannel Auctions on Sunday night, establishing a record for any non-game-worn Jordans in a public sale.

The sneakers, which are not photo-matched but exhibit codes inside the heel of each shoe indicating the shoes were custom ordered for Jordan, are prototype examples. The Nike shoes feature only text saying “Air Jordan,” without the “Wings” logo, which was added later for the commercial release of the sneaker.

“The record sale of Jordan's ‘banned' player sample shoes stands as a monumental moment. This iconic pair not only represents basketball greatness but also symbolizes the legacy of a global sports icon and brand,” Grey Flannel’s director of operations Michael Russek said. “Michael Jordan's unparalleled impact on the world of sports and culture is unrivaled, and the passion of our collectors highlight the timeless value of pieces that connect us to the legends of the game.”

Likely the earliest pair of Jordans ever sold publicly, and among the first produced, the sneakers were gifted to the consigner in late 1984 by his college basketball coach in Portland, Oregon, according to the letter of provenance provided by Grey Flannel.

The sneakers were “hobby fresh” and had never previously been displayed.

Last month, Russek told cllct he believed the sneakers were arguably “the most important individual pair of sneakers ever to be publicly offered.” Russek’s assessment, which also placed the pair’s significance above the famed Nike Air Ships, appeared to be shared by the buyer, who paid more more than the most recent pair of Air Ships sold publicly, which sold for less than $300,000 in April.

The only other pairs of sneakers lacking game-worn attribution to exceed the sales price of Grey Flannel’s prototype AJ1s are the Nike Moon shoes, considered among the most important sneakers in history, which at their height sold for $437,500 (though the same pair sold for $308,000 last week), a Louis Vuitton x Nike Air Force 1 Virgil Abloh design which sold for $352,800 in 2022 and Kanye West’s Grammy-worn Nike Air Yeezy 1 prototypes, which sold for $1.8 million in 2021 (though sold again for a mere $180,106 in September 2023).

All other Jordan sneakers to fetch higher prices were worn by Jordan in various significant games, such as the Dynasty Collection, which included six individual sneakers from each of Jordan’s NBA Finals-clinching games ($8 million), the Air Jordan 13s worn in the 1998 NBA Finals ($2.2 million), the Nike Air Ships worn by Jordan in 1984 ($1.47 million), his “Flu-game” sneakers ($1.38 million), the AJ1s with the “Dunk Sole” worn in 1986 while Jordan nursed a broken foot ($675,000), the Air Jordan 1s worn during the “Shattered Backboard” game ($615,000) and a handful of others.

Grey Flannel connected this pair to Jordan’s first photoshoot with Nike, which produced the famous shot of MJ wearing the shoes around his neck. However, low-resolution imagery prevented a conclusive match.

Will Stern is a reporter and editor for cllct.