The sneaker resale business has become a highly lucrative endeavour. An ever-growing horde of prospectors perch in sidewalk bivvies each weekend in hopes of hitting 24-karat Trefoil or sterling silver Swoosh. But the market is a fickle beast, where fortunes can be made and lost on the unforeseeable, such as high production numbers and secondary drops. Not all prices rely on the hype cycle; some shoes have an intrinsic value, but the simple fact is there are some unbelievably expensive sneakers in the world. So dust off that imaginary pocketbook as we embark on the ultimate fantasy sneaker shopping adventure. In no particular order, here we go.
Nike Mag 2016 (Auto-Lacing): Average $26,000
The first shoe that springs to mind when the question of selling a kidney comes up has to be the 2016 version of Nike’s Air Mag. The sci-fi sneaker was first imagined in the late 80s and presented on the silver screen in Back to the Future II. Of course, the lights and auto-lacing feature were originally achieved using cinematic tricks — it took almost 30 years for technology to catch up with the concept. The release of the battery-powered, motor-driven sneakers was limited to fewer than 100 pairs, which were doled out via raffle to sneakerheads, cinephiles and pop-culture aficionados. Wide-ranging appeal, scarcity and technological significance have made it one of the most sought-after sneakers out there. If you’re willing to invest the average cost of $26,000, we’re sure the value will only appreciate.
Michael Jordan’s Game Worn Converse Fastbreak: $190,373
1984 was not only Michael Jordan’s rookie year in the NBA, it was also the year he and Team USA won gold at the Olympics in Los Angeles. At this early stage in his career, MJ was yet to make the switch to the Swoosh and was still rocking Converse as a hangover from his college sponsorship. In June 2017, a pair of Converse Fastbreaks signed by the then-rookie — and said to have been worn on-court at the Olympics — came up for auction. They were expected to sell for around $100k, but when all was said and done they reached a staggering $190,373 — the highest ever price for a pair of game-worn sneakers.
DJ Khaled x Air Jordan 3 ‘Grateful’: $25,000
Over the past couple of decades, Jordan Brand have been responsible for the majority of jaw-droppingly high sale prices. There were the signed Flu Game 12s that clocked in at $104k, the regular $30k plus sales of OG models, or any one of the many limited releases that sell for between $5000 and $10,000. One of the latest entrants into the league of bank-busting Jays is DJ Khaled’s ‘Grateful’ Jordan 3s. Mere months after release, the bright red sneakers were going for anything between $16,000 and $25,000! Act fast if he ever decides to drop another.
VLONE x Nike Air Force 1 High: $8000
Right as releases were about to flow, Nike’s collaborative partnership with VLONE was cut short amid sexual assault allegations levelled against A$AP Bari. The first drop was a low-cut Air Force 1, which can fetch hefty resale prices of just over $1500, but it was the later high-cut version that really caught everyone’s eye. It’s said that 20 pairs were made and raffled off at Nike Paris, and although many suggested a wider release in the following weeks or months, the severance took place too soon to find out. If you do happen to find a pair, the high-cut VLONE AF1s currently fetch around $8000 — and there are still other gems to be harvested from the ditched partnership. Around a month before ties were cut, a couple of photos surfaced showing a collection of VLONE x Nike Vandals. They may be nothing more than sneaker folklore, but if you do ever track down a pair of the scandalous sneakers, don’t let them get away.
Air Jordan 11 ‘Jeter’: $40,000
He’s one of the greatest New York Yankees of all time, so it was only fitting that Jordan Brand bestowed Derek Jeter one of the rarest Jordan releases of all time. To commemorate his retirement in 2017, five pairs of the velvety navy Air Jordan 11s were released in a scratch-off auction at a special pop-up near Yankee Stadium. Dressed in navy suede, this minimal marvel features Jeter’s famed number ‘2’ on the heel in white. To our knowledge, three of the five pairs are currently vaulted up in US consignment stores — ballpark prices ranging from $30,000 to $50,000. You’d probably need a Jeter-sized bank account to even consider forking out for a pair.
Buscemi 100 MM Diamond: $132,000
There have been plenty of occasions when customisers and cashed-up weirdos took an existing pair of shoes, decorated them with diamonds and voila, created a super-expensive sneaker. That’s all well and good, but it seems like a cop out when it comes to qualifying for this list because it’s not really the shoe that’s worth the money. For example, did you know Drake had a solid gold OVO Jay 10 made that cost him $1.9 million? You can’t really call it a sneaker, merely the image of one. But it’s a whole different ball game when a brand decides to produce and sell a shoe teeming with glittering treasure. Imagine how the conversation went down at Buscemi when someone suggested they load a shoe up with 11.5 carats of diamonds set in 18-karat gold, and then confidently price them at retail for $132,000! What a ridiculous idea, but they did it. For that much, you’d hope they come with their own security detail.
adidas NMD_R1 Friends and Family: $10,000
Since the advent of BOOST and the power of Yeezy, adidas have been creeping up into the four- and five-figure price range more and more often. The success of the brand’s NMD is undeniable, selling out colourway after colourway, but that’s not all. The ‘Pitch Black’ version fetches a cool $5000 these days — impressive, yes, but a feeble figure measured against the ‘Friends and Family’ NMD_R1. With a similar colourway to the OG NMD, these glitch camo knitted sneakers were given out to the design team responsible for the nomad. If you weren’t one of the ID-card toting recipients, you’ll have to fork out around $10,000 to add them to your collection.
Pharrell Williams x adidas Hu NMD Friends and Family: $10,000
Pharrell Williams is a pro when it comes to generating hype. The oh-so-stylish rapper has been involved in countless colabs and built a number of brands, but it’s his latest work with adidas that lands him on this list. The Hu NMD combines the comfort of BOOST with an aesthetic styled by one our generation’s best-dressed dudes. While the GR versions have inched up into the four-figure range, the ‘Friends and Family’ releases are the ones commanding mega bucks. You can snag a pair of the ‘Maroon’ for about $12,000 or, if you’d rather, the ‘Shock Pink’ will set you back close to $15,000. A mere pittance when you realise that once you own a pair you can pretend Pharrell gave them to you personally (although your landlords probably won’t care as they serve you with an eviction notice).
Macklemore x Air Jordan 6: $25,000
For a long time, the Eminem Jordan 4 has sat at the high end of the pricing scale without any other rapper colabs coming close. There are some Yeezy samples and, of course, the ‘Red October’ — but who could have guessed that the next lyricist to shoot up the list would be none other than Macklemore? It seems kind of ironic that the guy behind Thrift Shop — a song that extols the values of frugality and nurturing your own sense of style — created a shoe now commanding $25,000. Only got $20 in your pocket? Move along.
Rick Owens Geobasket Iguana: $3000 and a bucket of iguana tears
Whether you like it or not, there’s no denying that luxury designer brands have become a staple part of the scene over the past 10 years or so. As outlandish as a $1000 pair of pre-dirtied Balenciaga Triple S might seem, or a similarly priced pair of pre-distressed Golden Goose sneakers (anyone cottoned onto the tongue-in-cheek name there?) we think Rick Owens takes the cake with his iguana skin Geobasket. There are probably a few folks who think the appropriated style, bulbous silhouette and gratuitous tongue are ‘so chic.’ Nevertheless, there have been plenty of criticisms levelled at the relatively unregulated farming of iguanas for their skins over the years, so if you’re going to drop the $3000, leave a little cash in the kitty — you’ll need to buy soap to wash the blood off your hands.
Nike Moon Shoe: $437,500
The Nike Waffle Racing Flat, also known as the ‘Moon Shoe’, was reportedly one of just a dozen pairs ever created – and believed to be the only DS pair in existence. Cobbled by early Nike employee Geoff Hollister for runners at the 1972 Olympic Trials, the Moon Shoe is constructed from nylon and sewn together with fishing line. Sweetest quirk? The soles were literally moulded with waffle irons!