Kanye West 'Grammy Worn' Nike Air Yeezy Sample from 2008, Available Through Private Sale

Kanye West 'Grammy Worn' Nike Air Yeezy Sample from 2008, Available Through Private Sale

THE PROTOTYPE THAT INTRODUCED THE NIKE YEEZY BRAND TO THE WORLD

Created Exclusively for Kanye West And Worn During His Performance of Hey Mama and Stronger on Stage at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards

On View at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre 16 - 21 April



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O n the evening of February 10, 2008, Kanye West sent waves through the sneaker world. During his memorable and emotional performance of Hey Mama and Stronger at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards, Kanye donned a pair of sneakers that even top afficionados could not identify. It was a mystery, and the only clue was a Swoosh.

For over a year, rumors were quietly stirring that maybe a Kanye sneaker was coming. Nike knew the Grammys was the right time to introduce their top-secret project, and in one of the most brilliant reveals in sneaker history, Nike and Kanye teased the hype on which the Air Yeezy 1 would deliver. The sneaker world went off in a frenzy, as blogs and social media lit up across a community eager to know everything about the shoe that was unlike any they had seen before. The Nike Yeezy Empire had officially been born.

It was a critical moment for Kanye’s career, in both music and fashion. In addition to giving one of the most memorable performances ever at the Grammys and winning in 4 categories (including Best Rap Album), Kanye’s introduction of the Air Yeezy at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards is considered to be one of the most important moments in the history of footwear, becoming a pillar in the advent of modern sneaker culture. Today the multibillion-dollar adidas Yeezy brand is an industry titan.

These are the sneakers Kanye West wore the night the Yeezy was introduced to the world and redefined what a signature shoe could be. It was an entirely new silhouette, created for an artist rather than an athlete. Though Kanye West has partnered with adidas since 2013, the Nike Air Yeezy I and Air Yeezy II are still some of the most coveted sneakers by collectors, and are foundational to the trajectory of the Yeezy brand as we know it today.

The sneakers were originally sold as ‘Grammy Worn’ in benefit of a charity Nike frequently supports – the Doernbecher Children's Hospital. Aside from this clear provenance, Sotheby’s utilized external consultants to both photo-analyze the sneakers (comparing them against Kanye’s performance that evening), as well as looking at build, tagging, box and makeup to determine the sneaker’s authenticity.

Photomatch Analysis

Sotheby's partnered with Suede One to complete side-by-side comparisons of the present lot with photos of Kanye wearing the sneakers at the 2008 Grammys.

First View: Kanye’s Grammy Performance
(Left: Kanye Performance, Getty Images, Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage Right: Courtesy of Sotheby’s)
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  • Exposed glue above midsole.

    Small portion of glue is exposed directly between the midsole and midfoot mudguard.

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  • Exposed glue above midsole.

    Small portion of glue is exposed directly between the midsole and midfoot mudguard.

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  • Creasing by midfoot mudguard.

    Matching creasing pattern on right mid-foot mudguard.

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  • Creasing by midfoot mudguard.

    Matching creasing pattern on right mid-foot mudguard.

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  • ‘Sunburst’ creasing by Swoosh head.

    Radial crease pattern by swoosh is unique to wear and matches against photos of the sneakers.

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  • ‘Sunburst’ creasing by Swoosh head.

    Radial crease pattern by swoosh is unique to wear and matches against photos of the sneakers.

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  • Scuff mark on strap.

    There is a small scuff mark on the strap which reflects light more harshly than other parts of the strap.

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  • Scuff mark on strap.

    There is a small scuff mark on the strap which reflects light more harshly than other parts of the strap.

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Second View: Kanye Greeting Usher
(Left: Kanye Greeting Usher, Getty Images, Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage Right: Courtesy of Sotheby’s)
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  • Toe box perforations (front).

    On top of the left shoe toe box, there are 5 continuous rows of slanted perforations between the toe and the lace guard. The angle and alignment of these perforations match perfectly during photo-analysis.

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  • Toe box perforations (front).

    On top of the left shoe toe box, there are 5 continuous rows of slanted perforations between the toe and the lace guard. The angle and alignment of these perforations match perfectly during photo-analysis.

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  • Toe box perforations (side).

    On the side of the toe box, there are 8 partial perforation rows between the front of the lace guard and the strap. This pattern is unique and depends on how the leather is wrapped on the upper.

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  • Toe box perforations (side).

    On the side of the toe box, there are 8 partial perforation rows between the front of the lace guard and the strap. This pattern is unique and depends on how the leather is wrapped on the upper.

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Detail – Kanye Grammy Performance
(Left: Kanye Performance, Getty Images, Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage Right: Courtesy of Sotheby’s)
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  • Curved stitch line (Nike QC flaw).

    The double stitch lines that border the strap are supposed to be straight and run parallel to the edge of the leather- on this pair there is a Nike ‘QC’ (quality control) flaw and the double stitch lines curve away from the edge of the strap.

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  • Curved stitch line (Nike QC flaw).

    The double stitch lines that border the strap are supposed to be straight and run parallel to the edge of the leather- on this pair there is a Nike ‘QC’ (quality control) flaw and the double stitch lines curve away from the edge of the strap.

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These matches reflect some, but not all, of the diligence Sotheby’s took on in regards to the analysis of this pair.

The Grammy Air Yeezy samples were built in Nike’s lab, known as the ‘Innovation Kitchen’ at the company’s headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. Creative Director Mark Smith kept the project so under wrap that he released the shoes to Kanye for the Grammys with the condition that they would be returned as soon as possible following the performance. The shoe is made of soft black leather with perforated detailing throughout the upper and the heel overlay is branded with a tonal Swoosh. The design features the iconic Yeezy forefoot strap and signature ‘Y’ medallion lacelocks in bright pink (which were not worn by Kanye during his performance). A custom lasered wooden box is included, which features a design and etching by the Yeezy 1 creator, Mark Smith.

Sotheby’s is excited to have these sneakers available for private sale, and on view at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from April 16 to April 21st.

Private Sale

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