Sotheby’s and the Jordan Brand are teaming up for a rare sneaker auction.
The auction house is working with the fashion brand to sell 23 pairs of the unreleased Christopher Wallace Air Jordan 13, which was created in 2017 to celebrate what would have been The Notorious B.I.G.’s 45th birthday. Jordan collaborated with the Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation to auction the sneakers.
The online auction starts on Monday and runs through Feb. 3 and the sneakers are estimated to sell for $2,300 to $5,200. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation, which supports inner city youth through educational opportunities, scholarships and mentorship.
“The Air Jordan 13 has been reinterpreted to celebrate the legacy of The Notorious B.I.G., someone who reached for the stars, had the boldest of dreams with the work ethic to back it up,” said Reggie Saunders, vice president of entertainment marketing for Jordan Brand in a statement.
The black Air Jordan 13 sneakers are designed with an image of the rapper on the tongue and his famous quotes, such as, “It was all a dream” and “If you don’t know, now you know.” The sock liner is designed in a classic red and black plaid print and the shoelaces are inscribed with the word “dream.”
“We are thrilled that the Jordan Brand and the Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation have entrusted Sotheby’s with these exclusive pairs of sneakers honoring the legacy of The Notorious B.I.G. as part of the Jordan Year 2023 celebration,” said Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectibles Brahm Wachter. “The auction marks the only opportunity for collectors and enthusiasts alike to acquire these special limited-edition sneakers that bring together the legacies of the greatest athlete of all time with the greatest rapper ever.”
The auction coincides with Jordan Brand’s #JordanYear 2023 campaign, which reflects Michael Jordan’s number 23 jersey and is also meant to celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. Other major brands like H&M have featured images of the musician’s likeness in recent seasons. Sotheby’s knows firsthand how the Jordan name carries its own clout and fan base. A pair of Jordan-worn sneakers by the NBA legend during his rookie season sold for a whopping $1.47 million at the auction house in 2021.
“This is just the beginning of a journey for us as a brand in 2023,” said Shannon Watkins, chief marketing officer at Jordan Brand, in a statement. “We want to use the power of our Jordan heritage to energize and accelerate self-belief all year long.”
The Air Jordan 13 sneakers will be showcased in a public exhibition at Sotheby’s New York gallery during the online auction.
Another sign of Wallace’s lasting impact is evident in the “Sky’s the Limit in the County of Kings,” a 9-foot interactive statue of the late musician that was unveiled last month in Clumber Corner Park in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood. Made possible through the Downtown Brooklyn and DUMBO Public Art Fund, the likeness of “Biggie” was created by the artist Sherwin Banfield. It depicts him the musician in a Coogi sweater and crown, and features an audio component. Like the Sotheby’s triumvirate effort, the statue is a nod to hip-hop’s silver anniversary, and it will remain on view until October. H&M is among the brands that have used his name and image for men’s apparel in recent seasons.
Asked about The Notorious B.I.G.’s lasting appeal, Banfield said the hip-hop culture recognizes his authenticity, genius, heart and potential. “His authenticity mirrors the roots of hip-hop, the voice of the voiceless, of disenfranchised Black and brown youth who put their personal stories of hardship and fun on record. There is a relatable human experience in that duality. His genius is recognized in his art; his delivery, cadence, rhyme pattern and style is the highest level of storytelling in the spoken word tradition. His heart was huge; his family, friends and community can attest to this,” the artist said, adding that “the heartbreaking understanding of what his maturing creative and community contribution could have offered the world” was another factor. “We see the maturity and successes of his contemporaries and we recognize he would have been as or more impactful if he was still here. So we celebrate what he was able to offer as his legacy.”