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Sotheby’s bets on sports with auctions of Jordan shoes, Bryant jersey

Sotheby’s is wading further into the sports world with its inaugural “Sports Week,” which will see the auction house putting Michael Jordan’s game-worn Air Jordan 11s, a Kobe Bryant jersey and Muhammed Ali’s fighting trunks up for bidding.
The company announced on Wednesday that a series of auctions featuring prominent sports memorabilia will kick off on March 28 and will run for about two weeks, through April 12.
Jordan’s Air Jordan 11s from Game 5 of the 1996 NBA Finals are Sports Week’s headliner item, expected to fetch between $200,000 and $400,000, according to CNBC.
7 Sotheby’s is auctioning major sports memorabilia for its inaugural “Sports Week.” Sothebyâs
7 As part of Sotheby’s “Sports Week,” the auction house is selling Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers jersey from Game 1 of the 2009 NBA Finals. Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Jordan wore the sneakers as he returned from his brief retirement to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 72-10 regular season record and then their fourth NBA title, CNBC reported.
In addition, Sotheby’s is anticipating Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers jersey from Game 1 of the 2009 NBA Finals to go for between $1.5 million and $2.5 million.
Bryant — who died tragically in a 2020 helicopter crash alongside his daughter, Gianna — scored 40 points that game, his highest-scoring NBA Finals performance.
Sotheby’s will also be offering 50 pairs of sneakers worn by fellow NBA greats, including LeBron James, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook, per CNBC.
Memorabilia from more recent games is up for grabs too, including James’ 2024 All-Star Jersey, expected to fetch $200,000 to 300,000.
The jersey Stephen Curry wore during his three-point competition against Sabrina Ionescu will be included in the Sports Week auctions, where it’s expected to sell for between $30,000 and $500,000.
7 Jordan’s Air Jordan 11s from Game 5 of the 1996 NBA Finals are Sports Week’s headliner item, expected to fetch between $200,000 and $400,000, according to CNBC. Sothebyâs
7 Sotheby’s attributed the recent spike in interest around sports memorabilia to “The Last Dance,” which premiered during COVID and documented Jordan and the Bulls’ quest for their sixth NBA title AFP via Getty Images
Ionescu’s jersey from that game will be sold as well. Auctioneers are expecting $8,000 to $12,000 for it, CNBC reported.
The entire sports collection is expected to sell for more than $12 million, with individual items ranging from $500 to about $6 million each, according to CNBC.
The highest-grossing item is expected to be Ali’s shorts from his legendary “Thrilla in Manila” match from 1975 — widely considered one of the greatest boxing matches of all time after Ali defeated Joe Frazier in Quezon City.
Should the trunks sell for the high end of its anticipated range, $6 million, it would make them one of the most valuable items of Ali memorabilia to appear at auction.
The highest price ever paid for a piece of Ali memorabilia currently stands at $1.1 million, according to high-end collectibles buyer and seller Just Collecting.
7 The jerseys Stephen Curry and Sabrina Ionescu wore during their three-point competition will be up for auction and are expected to sell for between $30,000 to $500,000, and $8,000 to $12,000, respectively. Getty Images
Ultimate Fighting Championship CEO Lorenzo Fertitta paid the sum in 2014 for the gloves Ali wore during his November 1965 fight against Floyd Patterson.
Sotheby’s Sports Week comes as demand for athletic memorabilia has surged in the wake of the popular documentary “The Last Dance,” which was released during COVID and chronicled Jordan and the Bulls’ quest for their sixth NBA title, per CNBC.
The interest in sports-related collectibles brought a new, younger demographic into the auction market.
“We’ve seen exponential growth and interest in the category,” said Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s head of Streetwear & Modern Collectibles.
“Sports Week represents another example of Sotheby’s commitment to engaging in collecting communities with creative sale formats and is presented with attractive estimates that cater to all sports fans and collectors alike, both seasoned and also those looking to kickstart their collection.”
7 Muhammed Ali’s “Thrilla in Manila” trunks are expected to fetch between $4 million and $6 million. Sothebyâs
7 Should Ali’s trunks from the 1975 fight sell for the high end of their anticipated range, $6 million, it would make them one of the most valuable items of Ali memorabilia to appear at auction. Getty Images
Sotheby’s told CNBC that its average client for sports memorabilia is 20 to 40 years old — 50% of whom are new to auctions.
Some sales lead to more purchases in the contemporary and watch categories, Wachter said.
Sotheby’s has already seen success in the sports category: Last month, the auction house sold a collection of sneakers that superstar Jordan wore as he and the Bulls won six NBA championships for a handsome $8 million.
The sum for the sneakers — dubbed the “Dynasty Collection” — set a new record for game-worn sneakers, Sotheby’s said at the time.

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