Buying history

As Michael Jordan’s Nike Air Ships make history, here are five of the coolest celebrity memorabilia items ever to hit auction
By Bailey Slater | Fashion | 27 October 2021
Above:

Michael Jordan Nike Air

1984, a year synonymous with crimped hairstyles, Big Brother-esque government dystopia and Madonna’s Like A Virgin, depending on who you ask, of course. It’s also the year Nike fashioned up their most prolific sneaker to date for former basketball Hall Of Fame-r Michael Jordan during his first season with the Chicago Bulls. In the three decades since Jordan’s mighty reign, the shoe has been the subject of murder trials, Spike Lee makeovers, and Design Museum retrospectives alike, cementing its place in popular culture forever. But as the fashion reselling market continues to plague the design world, Nike’s Air Jordan has entered a new league of fashion folklore altogether, breaking a record for the highest ever price paid for game-worn footwear from any sport, selling at auction for $1.47 million (£1.1 million) this past weekend.

Of course, this is hardly the most ludicrous offer we’ve seen for a slice of celebrity memorabilia, so we’ve picked five of the most iconic pieces we’d snag for the HERO fashion cupboard if we had a spare few mill in the bank.

Kurt Cobain’s Cardigan ($75,000)

A whole host of Cobain-focused paraphernalia was ready and waiting for the highest bidder in 2019, from paper plates boasting scribbled setlists to an actual signed Nirvana recording contract. The cardigan from Cobain’s final shoot with Jesse Frohman in the summer of 1993 was also up for grabs, leaving its collector for the sweet, sweet price of $75,000. Grunge heritage, absolute. 

Alexander McQueen FW08 Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga’s FW08 Alexander McQueen dress ($133,075)

Besides being a chart-topping popstar and Academy Award-winning actor, Lady Gaga also happens to be a pop-culture savant. With over 50 Michael Jackson pieces already under her belt – including hand-sewn crystal gloves and a military jacket from the Bad tour – Gaga also has a penchant for the work of Alexander McQueen, not that we can blame her. Purchased from the archive of Daphne Guinness, a friend and collaborator of the late designer, in 2012 Gaga acquired an empire waist silk tulle gown from McQueen’s FW08 collection The Girl Who Lived In The Tree for $133,075, later sporting the jaw-dropping piece of fashion history in an episode of American Horror Story: Hotel.

Princess Diana Travolta Dress

Princess Diana’s ‘Travolta’ Gown (£264,000)

They say a picture might be worth a thousand words, but this fleeting moment of ballroom splendour (a.k.a. Diana’s tiered Victor Edelstein gown) is worth £264,000. We can’t imagine it was a normal occurrence to find Princess Diana and John Travolta in the same room together, so we totally get the hype. Here’s to accidental moments of fashion folklore and more blue velvet!

GALLERY

Biggie Smalls’ K.O.N.Y. Crown ($594,750)

Sotheby’s made history last year with their first-ever hip-hop auction. Amongst the hot ticket items were Tupac’s high-school love letters, DJ Ross One’s literal Wall of Boom and Biggie Smalls’ K.O.N.Y. crown. Selling for $594,750, the original plastic crown was purchased for just $6 before the shoot of Smalls’ King Of New York cover for Rap Pages magazine – what a markup!

Andy Warhol’s Grey Wig ($10,800)

Though the world is yet to truly embrace going grey, the buyer of this Warhol-certified wig certainly didn’t seem to care. Taken from the collection of the famed artist’s nephew, Jeffrey Warhola, in 2006 this silver-toned gem ended up leaving Christie’s for $10,800, almost 900 times the price of a silver box dye by Bleach London.

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