Kanye West's "Grammy-worn" Nike Air Yeezy shoes are expected to mark a new high in sneaker history.
“As a collector, I’ve always considered sneakers to be design objects – a physical confluence of artistry, history, and in this case, music," says Ryan Chang, a New York-based shoe collector (@applied.arts.nyc). He is the owner of Kanye West's pair of Nike Air Yeezy prototype sneakers, the artist's first own-brand sneakers, which were unveiled when he walked on stage to perform at the 50th Grammy Awards.
"The Air Yeezy Prototype is particularly special to me because it captured the cultural moment in 2008 so perfectly. There he was, Kanye West, on stage at the Grammys, winning 4 awards just that evening, and unveiling an incredibly important and iconic design in Nike’s storied history,” explains Chang.
Chang is offering the shoes for private sale through Sothebys auction house, for offers of US$1m and above. If they are bought for that price, they will be amongst the most valuable shoes ever sold.
They were created exclusively for Kanye West - he had a hand in the design - and he wore them during his emotional performance of Hey Mama and Stronger at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards. They will be on view at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre next week.
For more than a year prior to the reveal, rumours swirled that a Kanye sneaker was in development. "In one of the most hyped reveals in sneaker history, Nike and Kanye revealed during the rapper’s 2008 Grammy’s performance a pair of sneakers that even top aficionados could not identify – the only clue was a Swoosh. The Air Yeezy was an entirely new silhouette – created for an artist rather than an athlete, and paved the way for many of the artist collaborations of today," said Sotheby's.
The 43-year-old rapper last year became a certified billionaire thanks to his Yeezy brand, as did his now ex-wife Kim Kardashian West. Kanye West has become the wealthiest black man in US history, with his net worth said to have reached US$6.6bn (£4.7bn).
Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectables, said: “This pair is critical to the development of the Yeezy franchise, which has become one of the most important sneaker and lifestyle brands in history. Debuted on-stage at the Grammys in 2008, the sneakers set off waves in the sneaker community as people tried to identify the mysterious pair. Afterwards, we saw a series of collaborations between Kanye and Nike, and then later the birth of his line with adidas. We are excited to bring this item to market in Hong Kong alongside other sneakers from our Buy-Now Sneaker Shop - available for immediate purchase - and hope that sneakerheads as well as music and fashion lovers will enjoy visiting this iconic pair at our exhibition in Hong Kong.”
It comes off the back of last year's sale of Michael Jordan's game-worn Nike Air Jordan 1s, which the basketball star wore in 1985. After a frenzy of bids they sold for US$560,000 at a Sotheby's auction, making them the most expensive sneakers to sell at auction.