Yeezy Prototype Up For Auction, On View in Hong Kong through 21 April
From 16 to 21 April at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, a unique piece of sneaker history will be on display. The Kanye West "Grammy Worn" Nike Air Yeezy 1 Prototypes, which West wore for his "Hey Mama" and "Stronger" performances at the 50th Grammy Awards, will be displayed among other highlights from Sotheby's, with offers for the shoes—valued at more than $1 million—being accepted on a private, direct basis.
Since 2013, Kanye West's Yeezy line of apparel and footwear has been produced in partnership with Adidas, but sneaker historians know that these prototype Nikes were a catalyst to the Yeezies the market knows today.
"This pair is critical to the development of the Yeezy franchise, which has become one of the most important sneaker and lifestyle brands in history." said Brahm Wachter, Sotheby's Head of Streetwear and Modern Collectables. "Debuted on-stage at the Grammys in 2008, the sneakers set off waves in the sneaker community as people tried to identify the mysterious pair.
"Afterwards, we saw a series of collaborations between Kanye and Nike, and then later the birth of his line with adidas," Wachter said. "We are excited to bring this item to market in Hong Kong alongside other sneakers from our Buy-Now Sneaker Shop—available for immediate purchase—and hope that sneakerheads as well as music and fashion lovers will enjoy visiting this iconic pair at our exhibition in Hong Kong."
Not only do these Nike Yeezies represent a pivotal moment where sneaker history would change forever, they are also permanently ingrained in pop culture. West's appearance and performance at the 2008 Grammy Awards was one of his most iconic of all time; 2008 was also the year West swept four award categories, including Best Rap Album.
"As a collector, I've always considered sneakers to be design objects—a physical confluence of artistry, history, and, in this case, music," said Ryan Chang, a sneaker collector and curator, in a statement. "The Air Yeezy Prototype is particularly special to me because it captured the cultural moment in 2008 so perfectly. There he was, Kanye West, on stage at the Grammys, winning four awards just that evening, and unveiling an incredibly important and iconic design in Nike's storied history."
By the time West debuted his new shoes on stage, rumors had been swirling for more than a year about West's imminent footwear collaboration. Today, twelve years since the Yeezy shoe debut, the Yeezy brand is valued at nearly US$2 billion.