Since the birth of sneaker culture in the mid-1980s, footwear has become one of the most dominant categories in the booming luxury resale market. For sneakerheads, this will come as no surprise: unique collabs, rare sample sneakers and exclusive sneaker offerings from heritage luxury brands will attest to the market’s insatiable appetite for rare sneakers. Sotheby’s Streetwear & Modern Collectables team specializes in curating the best of the best, epitomized in this selection of the most expensive sneakers available on our marketplace. From coveted collaborations to runway-ready silhouettes, sought-after samples to legendary grails, these are the most valuable rare sneakers for collectors to cop now.
The 7 Most Expensive Sneakers Available for Immediate Purchase
Fashion lovers and sneakerheads alike were treated to a preview of the Louis Vuitton Nike Air Force 1 in Summer of 2021 as part of visionary designer Virgil Abloh’s Spring/Summer 2022 lineup for Louis Vuitton. In total, Abloh designed 47 bespoke Nike Louis Vuitton Air Force 1 styles for the collection. Fusing the trainer’s classic codes with the insignia and materials of Louis Vuitton, the Nike Louis Vuitton Air Force 1 sneakers seamlessly connect the rich histories of both iconic brands. Every pair of Nike Louis Vuitton Air Force 1 sneakers were made by Louis Vuitton in Fiesso d’Artico, marking the first time in the AF1’s 40-year history that the model was crafted outside of a Nike factory. All 47 pairs of Abloh’s Louis Vuitton Air Force 1s feature materials employed in his Louis Vuitton men’s collections, and are styled with his signature quotation marks.
In January 2022, the first installment of Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton Air Force 1 sneakers came to market through Sotheby’s, with a total of 200 pairs offered at auction in an exclusive colorway. In June, the first general release, consisting of 9 covetable Nike Louis Vuitton Air Force 1 styles, finally hit stores. This vivid two-tone iteration features a base of white Monogram-embossed calf leather, accented with red Monogram leather overlays. Released posthumously, the Louis Vuitton Air Force 1s take on added significance, representing the last sneaker designs of Abloh’s storied career.
In 2015, rapper Eminem and iconic workwear brand Carhartt teamed up with the Jordan brand to create this ultra-exclusive Eminem Jordan 4 Carhartt collab. Originally gifted to the rapper’s friends and family, an additional 10 pairs of the Eminem Jordan 4 were created to sell at an eBay auction to benefit the Marshall Mathers Foundation. The auction of Eminem Jordan 4 Carhartts ultimately raised $227,000 and supported the Michigan State University Community Music School’s efforts to provide enrollment to local students. The highly coveted Eminem Jordan 4 sneakers feature uppers in black Carhartt canvas, with chrome eyelets. Eminem’s trademark hockey mask and backwards “E” logo adorn the heels of the Eminem Jordan retro 4s.
These rare SB Dunk lows originate from one of Nike SB’s most iconic early series. In 2003, Nike launched the White Dunk: Evolution of an Icon event, a traveling exhibition in which 25 Japanese artists were tasked with reimagining the white Nike Dunk as abstract works of art. In conjunction with the show, Nike planned a commemorative series of four Nike Dunk SB each themed around a major city at which the exhibition would take place. First came Paris, then Tokyo; London was set to be the third city to host the event (and New York, with the famed Jeff Staple “Pigeon” release, the fourth). When the London exhibition was unexpectedly canceled, Nike instead released the 202 pairs of London Nike SB Dunk Low Pros through the famed sneaker retailer Footpatrol. These rare Nike SB Dunks pay homage to the city of London with a sleek tonal gray suede upper reminiscent of the Big Smoke’s foggy skies. An outline of the river Thames is embroidered in dark blue at the heel, while dark blue Nike logos and laces add the final touches to the Nike Dunk SB grails.
Released in 2002, the Reese Forbes Nike Dunk SB Low is considered among the most sought-after pairs of its era. The second ever Nike SB Dunk from skateboarding legend Reese Forbes, these iconic Nike SB Dunks low were designed in partnership with fellow skater Natas Kaupas. The Nike Dunk SB Low stands out for its pioneering use of material and color. Two shades of Indigo denim with frayed detailing sit atop a contrasting red outsole, channeling the quintessential American aesthetic. A true original, the Reese Forbes x Natas Kaupas SB Dunk Low has earned its place in the sneaker canon, serving as inspiration for a new generation of designs. Its influence can be seen not only in the Nike SB Dunk High of 2017, but in countless other pairs to introduce frayed denim on their uppers.
Taking the idea of “upcycling” as its inspiration, this Louis Vuitton LV Trainer from 2021 was crafted using the stock of previous LV Trainer models. The eye-catching LV sneakers, designed in collaboration with Louis Vuitton men’s artistic director Virgil Abloh, feature a mix and match of colors and materials. Blue and white calfskin uppers, with contrasting orange suede tongues and pink shoelaces define this rare colorway of Louis Vuitton sneaker.s Creatively integrating both Louis Vuitton’s and Virgil Abloh’s signatures, the LV sneakers include handwritten annotations, intentionally loose sewing threads, and an iridescent Monogram luggage tag to achieve an utterly distinctive look.
A collab between Nike Air Jordan and Virgil Abloh’s design brand Off-White, the Jordan 1 Off White NRG exemplifies Abloh’s unparalleled creative talent. His reinterpretation of the classic Jordan 1 high top silhouette, is at once innovative and unique, yet strikingly familiar. Abloh’s design trademarks are present throughout the Jordan 1 Off White NRG. Intentional zip-ties, exposed foam and sans-serif branding inside Abloh’s signature quotation marks add a playful touch to the Off White Air Jordans. Highlighting the intentionality behind each element in the Jordan 1 high tops, visible stitching and a deconstructed floating Swoosh also convey a carefully handmade quality.
One of the most talked about releases of 2020, the Dior Air Jordan set the sneaker world alight at the Dior Men’s Pre-Fall runway show in Miami. The debut of the Air Jordan 1 Dior collab, timed to coincide with the 35th Anniversary of the Air Jordan, marked the first partnership between a Parisian couture house and the iconic sneaker brand. Designed by Dior Men’s artistic director (and passionate sneakerhead) Kim Jones, the Dior Air Jordan 1 is a superb blend of streetwear and high fashion. The classic basketball silhouette of the Air Jordan 1 Dior is dressed in luxurious Dior Gray calfskin leather, an homage to one of Christian Dior’s best-loved hues. Air Jordan and Dior branding hit the Wings logo, tongue label and outsole graphics, and the Dior Jordan 1s are accented with Swooshes in the maison’s signature Oblique monogram jacquard. Only 8500 pairs of Air Jordan 1 Highs and 4700 pairs of Dior Air Jordan 1 Lows were produced, adding to the Dior Jordan 1 allure.