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‘World’s most expensive’: Meet the $1.29 million sneakers

Jessica Yun
·2-min read
Are these the world's most expensive sneakers? (Source: Sotheby's)
Are these the world's most expensive sneakers? (Source: Sotheby's)

Even the most die-hard sneakerheads will have to watch on in envy for this one: the first prototype for Yeezy sneakers are going for sale – and only those who have a spare million dollars will be able to afford it.

The Nike Air Yeezy 1 Prototypes were worn by Kanye West himself at the 2008 Grammy Awards, and have been described as the world’s most expensive sneakers ever, are up for grabs for more than US$1 million ($1.29 million).

West picked up four Grammy awards in 2008. (Credit: Robyn Beck/AFP/AFP via Getty Images)
West picked up four Grammy awards in 2008. (Credit: Robyn Beck/AFP/AFP via Getty Images)

Although Yeezys have been signed with Adidas since 2013, the very first pair was described by Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectables Brahm Wachter as “critical to the development of the Yeezy franchise”.

During the Grammy Awards, “Kanye donned a pair of sneakers that even top afficionados could not identify. It was a mystery, and the only clue was a Swoosh,” Sotheby’s said on its website.

“It was an entirely new silhouette, created for an artist rather than an athlete.”

The pair was created within Nike’s lab, the ‘Innovation Kitchen’, at the sneaker company’s headquarters in Oregon.

The size 12 hi-top sneakers are made of soft black leather with gold detailing and perforated detailing across the upper. The iconic ‘swoosh’ is visible near the ankle.

The shoes have been put on the market by sneaker collector Ryan Cheng. The sneakers were first sold as part of a charity fundraiser to the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

The million-dollar sneakers will be on display at Hong Kong’s Convention and Exhibition Centre between 16 April and 21 April, before being offered up for private sale.

West’s Yeezy brand has also been vital to his status in becoming a billionaire, with the shoe and apparel brand valued between US$3.2-4.7 billion ($4.14-6.07 billion).

Forbes puts Kanye West’s net worth at US$1.8 billion ($2.33 billion) and describes his Yeezy for Adidas venture as a “lucrative multi-year deal”.

“He gets an annual royalty from Adidas, which makes Yeezy shoes. The Yeezy brand pulled in an estimated US$1.7 billion in sales in 2020,” Forbes stated.

West announced in June 2020 that American retailer Gap would begin selling a line of Yeezy clothing, with sales to begin in the “second half of 2021”.

Earlier this year, his wife Kim Kardashian-West filed for divorce from West, citing irreconcilable differences.

Kardashian-West herself joined the ranks of the world’s wealthiest after being named on the Forbes list for the first time.

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