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EMERGENCE: Auction rarities for sneaker fans

Sotheby's latest auction features a highlight from Nike's history - with a car twist.

As part of the “Emergence” online auction, which runs from 8 to 18 December, the auction house’s main lot is a number plate with the words ‘Nike 1’ on it, formerly owned by the late Geoff Hollister. Hollister was an early employee of Nike who often shared Nike news and sold shoes from his van at joint races with runner Steve Prefontaine; the auctioned plate – one of two estimated to sell for at least $10,000 – was previously attached to a van driven by Hollister and Prefontaine in the American Northwest. “The ‘Nike 1’ license plate is a testament to Nike’s historic rise to prominence, and Sotheby’s is honoured to offer this outstanding artefact for the first time, shedding light on its pivotal contribution to Nike’s rise to become the giant it is today,” shared Eric LiBassi, Sotheby’s Modern Collectibles Specialist.

Other lots in the “Emergence” auction include a number of archival, vintage and limited edition Nike sneakers – including a 2005 Air Jordan 4 Retro “Encore” signed by Eminem (estimated value $40,000-60,000).

Perhaps even more interesting, a recent Supreme and Nike sneaker collaboration features a purple and gold SB Dunk. According to the auction house, this sneaker is an early sample of the collaborator’s four-shoe 2021 SB Dunk Low collection. Unlike the retail pair, this iteration features a purple-based colour scheme and gold “Nike” branding on the side panels instead of stars. The shoe is estimated by Sotheby’s to be worth between $4,000 and $6,000.

In addition to the purple Supreme x Nike SB Dunk pattern, a rare Nike and movie relic also popped up on the auction block this week, namely the splints from Michael J. Fox’s original left foot, which was used to make the iconic Nike Mag sneaker and worn by Fox’s character Marty McFly in the 1989 film Back to the Future II. The auction house says in the description that the painstaking process of creating the final last involved a number of iterations that were eventually discarded and burned, making this final piece even rarer. The piece also bears Fox’s foot size and the inscription “M.J. Fox Anatomical” on the side. In addition to the footprint, the lot also includes a rare Nike jacket made exclusively for the cast and crew of the film.

The Nike Mag is arguably one of the most memorable shoes in Nike history. The sneaker was made exclusively for Back to the Future II and never saw the light of day until 2011, when only 1,500 pairs were auctioned off to benefit the Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s Research Foundation. In 2016, Nike released another limited edition of Mags with an automatic speed lace to commemorate Fox’s character’s time travel to 2015 in the film.

The bidding for Fox is currently at $1,600 on and is estimated to reach between $12,000 and $18,000 when the bidding ends on December 18.