Kobe Bryant’s sudden death has turned into big business, especially for resellers who are being criticized for capitalizing on the tragedy.
Since the helicopter crash Sunday that killed the former L.A. Lakers star and his daughter Gianna, prices have jumped significantly for Kobe Bryant’s Nike-made sneakers on resale sites. On StockX, the popular Kobe 6 ‘Grinch’ colorway that debuted in 2010 sold for $850 last Wednesday in a size 9.5, but $2,999 in a size 12 on Monday evening. The Protro Undefeated sneaker that launched in 2018 sold in a size 12 for $1,500 in November but on Sunday, a size 9.5 sold for $5,500 (a follow-up sneaker is rumored to launch this year) and the Premium Low Elite from 2014 sold in a size 13 for $2,325 in July 2019 while a size 12 sold for $4,411 on Sunday.
The quandary that Bryant’s death presents for some retailers and consumers is one that his fairy tale career helped to create. Starting out with Adidas as a high school senior in 1996 and later switching camps to a more lucrative multimillion dollar deal with Nike, Bryant had various shoes named in his honor during his 20-year career.
The sneakers Adidas made for Kobe when he was one of its sponsored athletes also jumped, with the ‘Storm Trooper’ sneaker that launched in 2000 selling for $50 in a size 13 on Oct. 22, 2019 but selling for $769 in a size 13.5 on Sunday. The Crazy 97 EQT sneakers sold in a size 9 for $170 on Jan. 17 and for $1,200 in a size 13 on Sunday.
“As is the case for any live marketplace, real-life events have ramifications on market performance,” StockX said in a statement. “Following the tragic news of Kobe Bryant’s passing, there was a surge in interest in products related to the basketball legend, including some of his most noted sneaker collaborations. The increased interest is a testament to his impact both on and off the court. Over the course of the past decade, Bryant released hundreds of colorways in partnership with Nike, many of which were fast fan favorites along with silhouettes that have become the preferred game shoe for players across the league.”
As a result of the marked increase in resale prices, many fans took to social media to share their distaste for opportunistic resellers. And a number of secondary market players and sneaker retailers responded by stepping in to curtail resellers’ attempts to profit from the tragedy.
Consignment shop Urban Necessities issued a letter saying that it “will not allow price changes on Kobe items that are consigned. If you have increased price on Kobe items, we will be reverting the price back to the original listing price.”
Canadian sneaker shop Courtside said it would be writing “RIP #8 #24” on the midsoles of Kobe sneakers in permanent marker to combat resale. “Anyone who ordered yesterday will be emailed and have the option of canceling or accepting,” the store said.
StockX is donating all proceeds from sales of Kobe Bryant-related products, such as sneakers, trading cards, and merchandise, for the week to the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation.
Reports from several outlets said Nike pulled Kobe Bryant products from its website, but a spokesperson for the sports brand debunked that rumor, telling WWD that all of its Kobe Bryant products have sold through and Nike did not request retail outlets to send products back.
Kobe Bryant products are still available on Goat, and at consignment shops Flight Club and Stadium Goods. Stadium Goods and Goat declined to comment but both Goat and Flight Club posted a tribute to the athlete on their respective landing pages that says simply: “1978-2020” in white text on a black background.
Kobe Bryant was 41 and Gianna was 13 when they died in the crash in Calabasas, Calif., on Sunday. The crash also took the lives of seven other passengers: John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah and Payton Chester and Ara Zobayan.
Fans have also started a Change.org petition to make Kobe Bryant the silhouette of the NBA logo to replace fellow Lakers legend Jerry West. A spokesperson from the NBA did not respond to a request for comment on whether this will be considered.