The sneakers fell into the donation stream just like old T-shirts, pants and coats that were regularly donated to the Portland Rescue Mission.
But these sneakers were different. It was a stunning metallic gold with Nike Swoosh. One heel is emblazoned with the 40 Acres logo and Mule Filmworks, Spike Lee’s production company.
“Normally, clothing is distributed very quickly,” said Erin Holcomb, the university’s director of personnel. Portland Rescue MissionWhich provides services such as food and shelter to the homeless and those struggling with addiction in Portland, Oregon, but the staff suspected that these shoes were special and put them aside.
The Nike Air Jordan Retro 3s sneakers turn out to be a specific collection called the “Spike Lee Oscars.” Mr. Lee debuted the shoes in 2019, wearing them to the Academy Awards when he and his co-writers won best adapted screenplay for “BlacKkKlansman.”
The sneakers were not released to the public, and only a few were manufactured.
The pair were donated in Portland in April, The auction house says it is worth more than $10,000.
“I don’t think anyone on staff was obsessed with sneakers,” Ms. Holcomb said. “We Googled it, and it was pretty clear what those were. But we thought there was no way; they had to be replicas or knockoffs.
Employees took the shoes to a sneaker resale store for evaluation. “They took them from behind,” Ms. Holcomb said. “They’ve been gone for a long time.”
When the store employees returned, they had a surprise: the sneakers were real. (Ms. Holcomb said the store offered to buy it outright, but the offer was declined.)
The organization then contacted Tinker Hatfield, the famed Nike sneaker designer who designed every Air Jordan 3 through 15. He also confirmed they were authentic, adding that only four or five pairs of the Retro Spike Lee Oscars had been created. Mr. Hatfield also signed the fund he provided to help increase its value.
Donations that potentially generate a windfall are not uncommon at the Portland Rescue Mission. “I’ve been here 17 years,” Ms. Holcomb said. “We never resold anything.”
Now, Sotheby’s He sells The sneakers on behalf of the organization are up for auction until Monday, with a sale estimate of $15,000 to $20,000. As of Friday morning, the highest bid was $7,000.
While major auction houses are mostly seen as places to buy high-ticket art and antiques, collectibles, wine, memorabilia, and yes, sneakers have also been known to come under the hammer.
Eric LeBasse, co-founder of Sotheby’s, said sneakers “represent an accessible entry point into the world of though, which is why I think we’re seeing this market continue to grow, as collectors today — especially in the luxury space — are generally under the age of… “Forty”. Specializing in streetwear and modern collectibles.
“Nike and its Jordan Brand subdivision have dominated the primary and resale markets over the years,” he said.
For example, the Air Jordan 13s that Michael Jordan wore in Game 2 of the 1998 NBA Finals — and which were featured in the documentary “The Last Dance” — It sold for $2.2 million this year“Setting a new world record,” Mr. Lebasi said.
As for the sneakers found at the Portland rescue mission, “It’s fairly rare to see another logo on a pair of Jordans,” he said, “so seeing the 40-acre Spike logo and the Mule logo on the heel is a touch Interesting and another rare distinction.”
Who was the benefactor or benefactors? Did they know what they were getting rid of? “We have no idea who donated them,” Ms. Holcomb said. “It’s a real mystery to us.”
In the unlikely event that a buyer wants to wear the five-figure sneakers to a pickup game: They run in a size 12½.
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