Sotheby’s x Stadium Goods: The Ultimate Sneaker Collection | Editors’ Picks (Space)

Sneakerheads, here is a chance to acquire some of the holiest of grails. From 11 to 23 July, Stadium Goods is teaming up with Sotheby’s to offer 100 of the world’s rarest kicks. This online-only auction Ultimate Sneaker Collection consists of some of the rarest sneakers ever produced featuring friends & family models, as well as extremely limited celebrity and artist collaborations, all of which were curated from Stadium Goods’ Trophy Case which only contains the most exclusive and sought-after sneakers.

The online auction has 41 lots with starting bids ranging from US$1,800 to US$80,000, which gives an impression of just how rare some of these sneakers can be. The collection will be on public display at Sotheby’s New York gallery until 23 July. The Value’s editor team has a few sneakerheads of their own and have selected a few pairs to feature in a three-part themed series: Space, Art and Celebrity. Here are our picks from the Space series.

1. Nike Waffle Racing Flat, Moon Shoe|US$110,000 - 160,000

The Nike Waffle Racing Flat, Moon Shoe is Nike’s first-ever shoe and this pair may be the only pair that is in deadstock (never worn) condition. This sneaker is a piece of Nike’s history and only a handful are known to exist. Before Nike became the world famous brand it is today, its roots started in Eugene, Oregon.

The Moon Shoe was designed by Nike's co-founder and Oregon University track coach Bill Bowerman in 1969. He created this waffle sole traction pattern by experimenting with this wife’s waffle iron by pouring rubber into the mold. This became the brand’s first prototype and the waffle sole became its first of many innovations. The finished pattern provided better traction and more cushion than most of its competitors. The “dirt & creased” look of the shoe has a sheer resemblance to the footprints left by astronauts on the moon giving the sneaker its name of the “Moon Shoe”.

Moon Shoe designed by Bill Bowerman

The first pairs of Moon Shoes were cobbled in 1972, and the specific pair in this auction was hand-cobbled by Geoff Hollister, one of Nike’s first employees. Each pair was handmade so it is completely unique. The outsoles were pieced together because Nike did not yet have the technology to make one piece soles but there are visible markings around the perimeter of the rubber as they were hand-cut into the shape. The upper is made of white nylon with the black Nike Swoosh sewn on with fishing line. The trademark Swoosh is the sole sign that it is a Nike shoe as the word “Nike” was not explicitly labelled.

Only about 12 pairs of Moon Shoes were created for five runners at the 1972 Olympic Trials in Eugene but most of them did not end up using them in the race. Since then, each pair most likely moved between different owners although only a few. Some were used competitively and some were also run in, but the pair in this auction remains unused. The previous owner found the pair at an estate sale in pristine condition before selling it to the current owner. There has been some aging since but were never untied and is considered brand new despite being out of the box. The current owner spoke with Runner’s World, “I have no idea how they are still unworn...It’s really unbelievable. I’ve never been tempted to try them on. I could never get myself to unlace them. It’s good enough for me to just admire them and all of their perfect imperfections.“

A pair of Moon Shoes was sold on eBay in December 2016 for US$11,200 to a Malysian collector but again, the condition of this pair is unmatched and coincidentally the sale happens to occur during the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. As the owner said, “It’s a celebration of the moon at Sotheby’s.” The pair is expected to fetch between US$110,000 to $160,000.

Nike Mag "Back to the Future" 2016

Nike Mag "Back to the Future" 2011 (Note: The 2011 model also has light up capabilities but is shown without to differentiate the two generations)

2. Nike Mag Back to The Future|2011 US$13,000 - 18,000, 2016 US$50,000 - 70,000

A sci-fi fan’s dream shoe. The Nike Mag made its first appearance in the classic movie, "Back to the Future Part II" (1989). Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, rocks the auto-lacing high-top when he travels into the future and ever since, fans have been wishing for a pair of their own. The Nike Mag was designed by legendary designer and Nike’s VP for Design and Special Projects, Tinker Hatfield. The pair seen in the movie was a glimpse of what Hatfield, his team, along with CEO Mark Parker thought sneakers would look like when in reality of 2015. The futuristic sneaker featured a light-up Nike on the strap, LED panels and power lacing (automatic lace tying). 

Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) holding the Nike Mag in Back to the Future II

McFly wearing the Nike Mag while on a hoverboard in a chase scene

Even many years after the movie, the demand for these nostalgic shoes remained very high. An online petition started in 2007 called “McFly 2015: Make It Happen!” to get Nike to make the Mag available for consumers. Also in 2007, an animated version of the shoe is seen in Kanye West’s music video for his song, ‘Good Morning’ directed by Takashi Murakami. Then in 2008, Nike created its first pair of shoes inspired by the movie, although in very limited quantities. The Nike Hyperdunk “Back to the Future” premiered at the UNDFTD shop in Santa Monica, LA, where a portion of the limited release was available to the dedicated fans and sneakerheads who camped outside for over a day. In fact, Kobe Bryant made an appearance at the event showing up in the special edition Hyperdunks in a DeLorean time machine similar to the one in the movie which sparked even more hype. Another signature Nike silhouette, Hypermax, got its own McFly colorway in 2009 but was also only available in very limited quantities with the U.S. release even being cancelled which left many sneakerheads disappointed. Thereafter, the Nike design team began to focus more on the technology side of the futuristic shoe instead of just exclusive colorways.

McFly 2015: Make it Happen! campaign

Kobe Bryant arrving in "McFly" Hyperdunks in a DeLorean at the UNDFTD shop

Finally in 2011, the Nike Mag came to life. A video teaser entitled “McFly’s closet” showed over a thousand pairs of Mags on shelves and it was announced that 1,500 pairs of the first edition of Nike Mags would be auctioned off on eBay and an additional 10 pairs in deluxe presentation boxes would be sold exclusively by Nike at live auctions. The Mag was almost an exact replica of the iconic movie sneaker. It had an electroluminescent out-sole, space age materials, and a rechargeable internal battery but without one key element, the self-tying power laces.

McFly's closet teaser

All the proceeds would go towards Marty McFly/Michael J. Fox’s own charity, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when he was 29, which led to a drinking problem. He sought help and was able to stop, which led him to eventually become an advocate for Parkinson’s disease research and awareness. His foundation was launched in 2000 with the hope of finally finding a cure.

The first Nike Mag appeared at the “Back to the Future” at Hollywood’s Montalban theater where Fox, Hatfield and Christopher Lloyd (Dr. Emmett Brown in the “Back to the Future” series) were present along with some movie props including the DeLorean DMC-12. The live auction of the very first pair signed by Fox took place at this event. The 10-day eBay auctions of the 2011 Nike Mag auctions raised over US$4.7m towards Fox’s cause. The highest winning online bid was US$9,959. Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google and his wife Anne Wojicicki matched the donations up to US$5m bringing the total proceeds to about US$9.4m.

The Nike Mag (2016) shoe box design is also quite futuristic

On October 21, 2015, the same day McFly travelled into the future in the movie, Nike announced the second generation of the Nike Mag, except this time with the “power laces” we see in the movie. The Nike Mag 2016 features the automatic lacing system which  first detects the person’s foot and then tightens or loosens accordingly. If you thought the 2011 edition was hard to get, the 2016 model was nearly impossible. There are only 89 pairs and a majority were only available through a lottery, again to raise donations for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Raffle tickets were US$10 each without a limit per person. The raffle raised about US$6.75m for the foundation so the combined proceeds of both editions raised about US$16m. 3 of the 89 pairs were made available in a tri-city live auction tour of Hong Kong, London and New York.

It is safe to say that the Nike Mag is one of the holiest of grails in any sneakerhead’s collection. Nike does not recommend extended use of this rare sneaker and should remain as an iconic collectible. The 2016 Nike Mag is expected to fetch between US$50,000 to $70,000 while the 2011 Nike Mag is expected to fetch between US$13,000 to $18,000.

NIkecraft Mars Yard Shoe 1.0

Nikecraft Mars Yard Shoe 2.0

3. Nikecraft Mars Yard Shoe, Tom Sachs Space Camp (1.0 & 2.0)|US$9,000 - 12,000

The Tom Sachs & Nike collaboration is based on shoes worn by astronauts as a performance sneaker for rocket scientists. The design came to fruition during Sachs’ meetings with NASA’s specialized scientists. It took about five years of designing but in 2012, the Mars Yard 1.0 (first edition) was created for his SPACE PROGRAM 2.0: Mars exhibition in New York City. The exhibition featured sculptures of space equipment, including vehicles, suits and control stations. 

Mars Yard Shoe design blueprint

Tom Sachs' "SPACE PROGRAM 2.0: Mars" exhibition (2012)

The sneakers were made from Vectran, the same material used for the airbags in the Mars Exploration Rover missions. Although after trial and error and wearing the shoes on a more regular basis, the members of Sach’s studio noticed that the fabric was easily susceptible to wear and tear. Vectran is lighter and stronger than polyester but is more volatile to fatigue. Since the Mars Yard had a very limited release (200 pairs), it is a very coveted collector’s item for not only sneakerheads but also art enthusiasts and fans of Tom Sachs.

Tom Sachs worked closely with NASA to make a shoe fit for Mars

The updated Mars Yards 2.0 (second edition) was released five years later also in very limited quantities. In the five years between, Sachs worked with Nike’s designers to carefully test the shoe after they discovered that Vectran wasn’t the right solution. This time he learned through daily use and took the time to test the sneaker thoroughly. The Mars Yard 2.0 focused on improved durability. The Vectran material was replaced with a polyester warp-knit tricot mesh that is more breathable and the red loop straps use a stronger stitch. While the Mars Yard 1.0 had protruding soles made for desert use, the Mars Yard 2.0 is made for more everyday use and has two insoles - mesh and cork. The cork insole was included to be more optimal when worn sockless. 

The Mars Yard 2.0 with the mesh insole (left) and the cork insole (right)

The design of both editions of the Mars Yard completely reflects Sachs’s work as it is a result of continuous adjustments and that nothing is ever truly finished. Just like his art, everything is exposed, therefore the Mars Yard also embraces how everything comes together to form the work. Sachs is also a strong believer in using materials in their natural state, which is why the inner foam stuffing in the tongue is exposed and the upper suede is undyed. “People wear their scars with pride, so that’s another reason why don’t polish the materials away - it’s storytelling. Rock your shoes dirty to say, ‘I wear my shoes. I do things with my life. Behold the evidence of my actions.’” The improved Mars Yard 2.0 was released at Sachs’ Space Camp. The lot is expected to fetch between US$9,000 to $12,000.

Auction details

Auction House: Sotheby's New York
Sale: Stadium Goods: The Ultimate Sneaker Collection Online
Sale Date closes: 24 July 2019 | 2am (Hong Kong & Taipei time)

Official Website