Yeah, your friends and family who just don’t get the shoe game are shocked when you tell them you shelled out 200 bucks for a pair of sneaks – but you know that ain’t nothin’. So next time they give you wise cracks, give ‘em this list – we’ve compiled ten of the most stupidly expensive sneakers ever.
Now, there’s never really such a thing as a stupid sneaker purchase if you really want it, love it when you get it, and don’t live to regret it, but we just wanna shine a light on some wacky sales from the last few years, from sample Js, to bejewelled ball boots to signed feet pieces of history. It ain’t a countdown, because we consider these models expensive for different reasons – in fact, there might even be a pair you can snare right now with the paper in your pocket…
AIR JORDAN 11 (BLACKOUT): $11,267
This sample J takes the cake as the most expensive out-the-box Jordan ever. When pics first popped up of this in early 2012, sneakerheads went well crazy, and some went even crazier with their wallets – one guy apparently shelled out over 11 large for it. And this all happened when most people assumed it was a sample of a shoe that would release that year… but it didn’t. Could it have gone for even more if we knew it would be a one-of-one? What is it worth now? The closest Jordan Brand has got colour-wise to the Blackout 11 is last year’s Gamma Blue, and judging by the hype around that release and the price tag attached to this sample, we’re pretty confident we’ll see the Blackout one day…
NIKE AIR MAG: $37,500
The charity auction of 1500 pairs of the Nike Air MAG, a replica of the fictional boot Michael J Fox didn’t lace up (cos they had ‘power laces’) in Back To The Future Part II, made almost $6 million for the Michael J Fox Foundation in 2011 (a donation that was matched by a Google co-founder). With a good cause like that, it’s near impossible to argue any money spent is stupid, but we’re really just trying to draw your attention to a stack of landmark pricey shoes, and this is definitely a watershed moment in racks on racks shoe buying. English rapper Tinie Tempah scored the first Air MAG to be put up to auction, and paid dearly for it too, to the tune of $37,500. It did land the man a pair of very special sneaks though, as well as his name in every newspaper in the flippin’ world. PR stunt? I’m no accountant, but if he deducted the sale as a marketing expense, which will give him a 50% return, and as a charity donation, which will also give him a 50% return – did he just get a free shoe? I’m definitely not an accountant, but Tinie Tempah is definitely not stupid.
AIR YEEZY 2 (RED OCTOBER): $17,000,000
The Nike Air Yeezy 2 ‘Red October’ release was cloaked in mystery for the best part of a year, but after the acrimonious end of the Kanye/Nike partnership, they finally fizzled out off Nike.com and onto people’s feet. The all-over red shoe trend was no longer red hot when they arrived but these pieces of Kanye history are still demanding a few thousand clams on eBay for legit pairs. Perhaps the funnest chapter in the Book of the Yeezy 2 came with one particular eBay auction that spiraled out of control and into comedy, with the price skyrocketing to over $17 million. We wonder if eBay sent the debt collectors out to cash in on that one… Probably not.
GOLD-DIPPED NIKE DUNKS: $6000
Buy a big pair of Dunks, dip in 24K gold. Sell for $6000. It’s a simple equation, but artist Kenneth Courtney took the plunge on five pairs and showed them off around the world. We’re betting he got a few biters, but the markup probably isn’t as favourable as Nike’s – if that gold is the real deal.
BRONZE AIR JORDANS: $2250
Another controversial sneaker to channel the periodic table, artist MSenna created bronze sculpture renditions of three Air Jordan models and sold singles for over 2K. The cynic in us thought these ‘sneaker sculptures’ may have been a little bit cheeky and cheaty though – the brilliant attention to detail of the models, and the photo of the artist on his website using a spray can had us thinking the homie had just given an actual leather Jordan shoe a heavy spray of bronze Rust-Oleum. Msenna has since cleared up his product description on his website, and we believe we’re dealing with legit super heavy bronze casts of some of your fave Js. Not actually a bad souvenir for a sneakerhead. Still, that price though! We’ll take a pair we can wear instead.
DIAMOND ENCRUSTED AIR FORCE 1 SOCAL: $50,000
Small stature rapper Big Boi loves jewellery and he loves sneakers, so he needed to answer the immortal question, if you combine your two great loves will it make something even greater. Is wearing this 11-carat champagne diamond-slathered Air Force 1 better than wearing $49,800 worth of jewellery on your top half and a pair of crispy but not encrusted pair of Ones down low? It’s a dilemma most of us will never have to confront, but Big Boi seemed pretty happy with his decision at the time.
AIR JORDAN 10 & 12 (OVO): $20,000 and $100,000
Drake and Jordan Brand celebrated the beginning of their partnership by gifting Drizzy and his October’s Very Own crew special Air Jordan 10 and 12 models. Sir Champagne Papi himself took pity on the paupers at the Toronto Raptors’ ‘Drake Night’ extravaganza, handing a pair of pearly OVO Air Jordan 10s to a fella from one side of the stadium and some OVO 12s to a little lady on the other side. Both incredibly grateful super fans decided to cash in on the gesture immediately, putting their rare pairs up on eBay. The 10 sold for 20 stacks, while the 12s headed towards 100 Gs! We’re thinking we might see these be reposted on the Bay soon, surely there were some trolling bidders here none-too-scared about the auction debt collectors. If the sales were real, then having stuff touched by Drake must be magic – pay this guy to christen your baby or MC the Bar Mitzvah!
MICHAEL JORDAN WORN AIR JORDAN 12 (FLU GAME): $104,000
While we have our doubts about the OVOs, there’s every reason to believe this sale was legit. In the 1997 Finals, MJ played one of his most fabled games, pushing back the pain of suspected food poisoning to notch 38 points in a brilliant win against the Utah Jazz. After the game, His Airness handed a Jazz ball boy, who had supplied him with apple sauce, his signed Air Jordan 12s – yes, this is weird, but believe it! The ball boy played wise investor for the next 16 years, letting the value of the shoes accrue and then handing them to a luxury auction house for bidding. The auction made global headlines and attracted a winning bid of $104,000.
SF x PUMA (SHARKBAIT): $850-$1300
This colab got a lot of people instantly excited, and left many disappointed when they missed out. Initially meant as a friends and family release, we wanted to share the love a bit and put together a really special package to toast to a successful Blaze of Glory colab bring-back. We couldn’t foresee the scope of the madness that would surround these sneaks. It was great that so many people had love for them, but you know what they say, ‘hell hath no fury like a sneakerhead scorned’ and we ended up playing counsellor for a lot upset fans. We would have loved to make a helluva lot more, but you can’t always get what you want. The result of such a hyped small release meant a few of the pairs hit eBay, hovering around the one thousand dollar mark.
AIR JORDAN 2 (1986 OG): $31,000
An original J over 20 years old is definitely a showpiece of any Jordan collection – it’s a slice of history – and though time doesn’t treat them particularly well, there was no way you were gonna play ball in ‘em anyway. A couple of years back, an OG Air Jordan 2 popped up on eBay for a lazy 31 thou, like the OVOs we can’t confirm whether it sold for reals or not (who ever really knows when money changes hands except the people in the sale) but these are worth mentioning because the 2 is far from a fan favourite Jordan and this model aged particularly poorly. The upper may be constructed with rich Italian leather, but the crumby rubber midsole turned to stale bread pretty darn quickly and 28 years later it probably shouldn’t ever be touched or placed in strong(ish) wind. Check the pic, the midsole started off white… Still, it’s history, people, history!
SKECHERS SHAPE-UPS: $47.99
A bonus stupidly expensive sneaker here! Some shoes should just be given away as foot protection for people who don’t care about style, that’s about all the Skechers Shape-Ups have going for them. This “sneaker” is like a sports player that tasted a season of incredible glory and then failed the drug test. He then had all his trophies repossessed, along with his couch, kitchen sink and children, was savaged by the media, lost all his friends and now walks the streets in a trench coat, naked underneath, in big sunglasses and an op-shop fedora. ‘Don’t look at me’, he shouts, ‘Don’t look at me!’ The Skechers Shape-ups launched in 2009 and claimed to help you lose weight and tone your butt, legs and abs without you really having to do anything except walk around in them a little bit. They enlisted America’s most trusted and intellectually-respected girl-next-door sweetheart Kim Kardashian in the advertisements, because she had surely developed her completely natural figure through wearing Shape-Ups, and the shoe went gang-busters, showing up on the feet of every mall-walking mother (including mine) in the western world. The jig was up a couple of years later though, as the Federal Trade Commission slapped Skechers with a $40 million fine for deceptive marketing. They still sell the shoe, at a discounted price, but maintain the fat-burning claims, though they have added an asterisk that the benefits aren’t ‘clinically proven’.
Despite the fine, my mother is not phased and still swears by her ‘rocking shoes’, and claims they’re really comfy. Well, sorry Ma but some style is not subjective – they look awful, and they’re an absolute rip-off at anything close to 50 bucks!