Kanye West's 'Nike Air Yeezy 1' prototype sneakers to retail for $1m at private auction

13 April 2021 - 11:24 By unathi nkanjeni
Rapper Kanye West's Nike Air Yeezy 1 prototype sneakers are expected to sell for $1m at a private auction. File photo.
Rapper Kanye West's Nike Air Yeezy 1 prototype sneakers are expected to sell for $1m at a private auction. File photo.
Image: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

“I ain't dropped the album but the shoes went platinum.” That's what Kanye West rapped in 2016.

Little did we know the rapper and businessman meant one sneaker could rake in millions.

On Monday, Sotheby’s announced it was auctioning West's Nike Air Yeezy 1 prototype sneakers for $1m (about R14.5m). 

The item, considered “one of the most prized and sought-after sneakers in existence”, is set to be auctioned during a private sale from Ryan Chang, renowned sneaker collector and curator of Applied Arts NYC.

It will also be exhibited at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from April 16 to 21.

According to Sotheby's, the Jesus Walks hitmaker wore the sample of the shoes in February 2008 during his performance at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards.

West's prototype pair is reportedly the most valuable sneakers ever to be sold by the auction house and is expected to become the most expensive sneakers ever sold.

“The pair introduced the Nike Yeezy to the world, redefining what a signature shoe could be. Created exclusively for Kanye, the Air Yeezy was an entirely new silhouette, designed for an artist rather than an athlete, and paved the way for many of the artist collaborations of today,” said Sotheby's. 

Even though West and Nike split in 2013, Sotheby's insist the Nike Air Yeezy I and Air Yeezy II are “some of the most coveted sneakers by collectors”.

West and Nike split due to creative differences and he later partnered his Yeezy brand with Adidas.

“The Air Yeezy is foundational to the trajectory of the Yeezy brand as we know it today,” said Sotheby's. 

The shoe is made of soft black leather with perforated detailing throughout the upper and the heel overlay is branded with a tonal Swoosh.

The design features the iconic Yeezy forefoot strap and signature ‘Y’ medallion lace locks in bright pink. A custom-lasered wooden box is included, which features a design and etching by the Yeezy 1 creator Mark Smith.


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