T he 2022 Winter Olympic Games are kicking off in Beijing this month, and fans around the world are once again gripped by Olympic fever. A dazzling celebration of human achievement, the games have long uplifted and inspired us with their record-breaking performances and extraordinary stories. We take a closer look at five unique items, available now at Sotheby’s online destination, that evoke the indomitable Olympic spirit. From photographs capturing pivotal moments in sports history to sneakers made exclusively for Team USA, this curated selection of objects is sure to excite every kind of collector.
1. Nike Air Force 1 Promo USA Olympics
Sneakerheads and Team USA fans alike will thrill at the opportunity to acquire these exceptionally rare and perennially stylish kicks. With Beijing poised to make history as the first city to host both Summer and Winter Olympic Games, this ultra-exclusive shoe, released for Team USA athletes in celebration of Beijing 2008, feels especially of-the-moment. Nike’s iconic Air Force 1 Low silhouette, in crisp white on white, anchors the understated yet impactful design, while “USA” embroidery in red, white and blue adds standout accents to the heel, collar and insole.
2. Norman Mailer, "The Fight"
Few sporting events can rival the feverish intensity of 1974’s “Rumble in the Jungle,” which saw heavyweight champs Muhammad Ali and George Foreman—who brought home Olympic gold medals in 1960 and 1968, respectively—square off in Kinshasa, Zaire. A dazzling tribute to the historic match and accompanying media frenzy, The Fight brings together the best of Norman Mailer’s masterful sportswriting and classic commentary. Animating the text are powerful color and black-and-white photographs from the two men who captured Ali, in the ring and in private, like no one else: Neil Leifer and Howard L. Bingham. This limited collector’s edition is numbered and signed by both photographers, and features an introduction by Mailer scholar J. Michael Lennon.
3. Alberto Durazzi's "Cassius Clay, Wilbert McClure and Edward Crook at the Rome Olympics, 1960"
Connoisseurs of the sweet science will be captivated by this set of three gelatin silver prints by Italian photographer Alberto Durazzi. Taken at the historic 1960 Olympic Games in Rome—the first to be fully televised—the images capture a young Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali) at the very inception of his iconic career. It was here in Rome that The Greatest made his international debut, winning light-heavyweight gold. Clay is pictured alongside teammates Wilbert McClure and Edward Crook, both of whom also took home gold medals in the light-middleweight and middleweight divisions, respectively.
4. Pelikan Genesis of the Olympiad Fountain Pen
Stylophiles, take note: a perfect embodiment of the Olympic spirit, Pelikan’s Olympiad fountain pen has no detail overlooked. Produced in a limited edition of only 776, in honor of the year of the first Olympic Games, Genesis of the Olympiad celebrates the original stadium race, the “stadion.” The pen’s gold-plated sterling silver sleeve is engraved with a classically styled depiction of the iconic footrace—the only discipline included in the first 13 Olympic Games—and contrasting red resin recalls the terracotta color of ancient Greek vases.
5. Angelo Clener, Greek Vase Plates
The Ancient Olympic Games, originating in 776 BCE, and taking place every four years until at least 393 AD, were steeped in the religious and cultural traditions of Ancient Greece. Featuring scenes of athletic competition, idealized bodies and mythological themes, Classical art offers an illuminating window into the world of the ancient games. Vase paintings—among the most iconic of Ancient Greek art forms—are particularly striking in their ability to convey the narratives, values and mythology of the times. This set of eight hand-colored 19th-century engravings, based upon traditional red-figure Greek vases, is a quintessential example.