Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.
To Beverly Hills, where on Monday evening, a pair of Nike Air Mags, based on the self-lacing trainers from Back to the Future, were sold at auction for more than $52,000. Though Rakewell is unaware if the footwear in question came complete with authentic, post-gym pong, the sale marks a new record for collectible sneakers, beating the previous auction high mark by some margin.
The shoes featured in a sale devoted to ‘rare pop culture and urban art objects, sneakers and street art’, which also included work by Damien Hirst and Futura 2000. ‘We shattered the world record for collectible sneakers sold at public auction by $20,000’, said Leon Benrimon of Heritage Auctions. To quote Back to the Future’s Emmett ‘Doc’ Brown, ‘Great Scott!’.
This is far from the first time sports footwear has rubbed shoulders – or should that be chafed ankles? – with contemporary art. Reebok has created trainers based on the work of Keith Haring and Basquiat; Takashi Murakami has collaborated with Vans; and even Hirst himself has had a go, lending his signature butterflies to a limited-edition pair of Converse All Stars.
The leader in the field by some way, though, is the New York-based artist Tom Sachs, who in 2012 worked with Nike to produce a run of sneakers that now fetch thousands of dollars online. Sachs is now back with a second Nike collaboration, this time designing an entire exhibition experience around the shoes. Anyone hoping to acquire the shoes is instructed to watch a 40-minute orientation video on entering, before donning space suits and subjecting themselves to an obstacle course.
Only then, and only if they pass muster, will punters be permitted to purchase a pair of the coveted kicks. And that’s not the end of it. As a message on the shoebox reads: ‘These shoes are only valid if worn, and worn to death by you. Posers need not apply’. You have been warned…