Watch the video to find out about the sold shoes.
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A pair of Nike running shoes that one man wore for only a short time in the 1970’s before relegating them to the closet “as memorabilia nestled inside this kind of a time capsule” ended up breaking records after it sold for $437,500 at an online auction by Sotheby’s.
That’s because the Nike shoes that Dave Russell owned are some of the rarest examples on the planet. The unique waffle tread of the shoes left a moon-like imprint that earned it the nickname “moon shoe.”
At $437,500, Russell’s vintage pair even broke the 2017 record of $190,373 for a pair of Converse sneakers that Michael Jordan wore for the 1984 Olympic gold medal match against Spain and later signed.
There were only 12 copies of “moon shoes” ever made and they were created for the 1972 Olympic trials held in Eugene, Oregon. Bill Bowerman, former Oregon track coach and Nike co-founder conceptualized the shoes. One of the most innovative aspects of the design was when Bowerman used his wife’s waffle iron to create the soles. This created a shoe that was lighter and more flexible than the existing hard-soled spikes that distance runners wore then.
Russell was 25 years old at the time and had qualified for the trials which are how he came by the shoes. They were part of the free merchandise that was offered to runners who participated in the trials.
Speaking to the Sacramento Bee last month, he said, “They were exotic. They were something that was so different.”
Although around 10 other athletes came away with the shoes, too, nothing is known about what happened to them. To date, Russell’s are the only known pair to be in fairly good condition.
The trip to the auction block started when Russell was shopping for running shoes last winter at El Dorado Hills, California. His friend Nick Bouris was there when he happened to mention his old Nikes. Some research revealed that a similar pair had sold recently for $11,200 but that pair had the laces missing and the soles were falling off. That meant Russell’s pair would be worth more though Russell “didn’t have a clue” exactly how much more.
In the end, Russell decided to put them up for auction so that he could put the proceeds into a fund meant for his children.
That’s when Miles Nadal, the founder of MDC Partners and Peerage Capital, got involved.
He knew just how much the shoes were worth and spent way more than the $160,000 they were first estimated to bring.Sotheby’s Ultimate Sneaker Collection auction which featured the Air Jordan 11’s commemorating Derek Jeter’s career as well as the Nike MAG sneakers that had the (then fictional) self-lacing technology from “Back to the Future Part II.He also spent $850,000 at
His newly acquired “moon shoes” will grace his private Dare to Dream Automobile Museum in Toronto.
While Russell loved the shoes, he didn’t use them in the trials, preferring to stick to the pair he was comfortable wearing for such an important event. He was seeded 98th out of 102 runners but failed to qualify for the national team after ending up 55th. However, the shoes still had a special place in his heart to remind him of the time “I got to rub elbows with the most elite athletes in the world.”
“It wasn’t easy to part with them because they’re a part of my history,” he told the Bee, “but I’d rather have them sold if it’s going to be a decent price.”