Sotheby’s is bringing a taste of the sporting life to art lovers with its “The Games” sale and several pairs of sneakers worn by famous athletes like Michael Johnson and Michael Jordan are among the lots offered.
Sports fans will no doubt remember the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, when Michael Johnson entered the arena wearing gold Nike shoes. It was an incredibly bold statement, starting the race with Gold Shoes before the medal had been won, but Mr. Johnson did not disappoint, winning two gold medals for the 400 and 200 meter sprints, and setting new a Olympic record for the 400 meter and a new world record for the 200 meter. He was the first man ever to win gold medals for both of these events, and earned the nickname, “The Man With the Golden Shoes.”
The shoes themselves are a remarkable feat of engineering by Nike. Specially made only for Michael Johnson and his unique running style, the present pair featured an incredibly lightweight design. Of particular note, the shoes are asymmetrical, with mismatched soles. The spike plates were designed with the curvature of the track in mind. Nike filmed Mr. Johnson with high-speed cameras to see how his feet would interact with the track. Noticing a speed of approximately 20 Miles Per Hour around the curve, the company realized his feet acted differently from one another, and thus created spike plates to match his unique running style.
These shoes are currently listed for sale on Sotheby’s website, where they are estimated to fetch between US$30,000 and US$50,000.