A Michael Jordan jersey from one of the most well-known seasons of his NBA career sold for a record £8.8m on Thursday in a New York auction.
According to Sotheby’s, which coordinated the sale, the amount exceeded original estimates and set a new auction record for a piece of game-worn sports memorabilia.
In Game 1 of the 1998 NBA Finals, which marked the conclusion of the legendary season known as “The Last Dance” and featured in the same-titled 2020 ESPN and Netflix documentary series, Jordan donned the Chicago Bulls uniform. Jordan donned the uniform on June 3, 1998, during a match against the Utah Jazz, scoring 33 points in 45 minutes as the Bulls lost.
Despite significant internal strife that had negatively impacted their season, the Bulls went on to win the championship, and Jordan earned his sixth NBA championship ring.
The 1997–1998 season was “perhaps one of the most popular among Jordan supporters, as Michael was approaching the peak of his talents while concurrently pursuing what he felt would be his last opportunity at an NBA Championship with the Chicago Bulls,” according to Wachter before the sale.
According to the auction house, the pre-sale estimate of £2.7 million to £4.3 million was the highest ever for a Michael Jordan jersey or any other item of Jordan memorabilia.
With the £8.7 million sale price realised on Thursday, it surpassed the £2.6 million bid for a Kobe Bryant jersey last year to become the most expensive basketball jersey ever to sell at auction. According to Sotheby’s, the item also shattered the record for game-worn sports memorabilia held by Diego Maradona’s shirt from Argentina’s 1986 World Cup quarterfinal match against England. Earlier this year, the blue soccer shirt went for £7.8 million to an unidentified buyer.
Jordan wore Nike Air Ships sneakers, which fetched £1 million at auction in October 2021. On November 1, 1984, the basketball superstar wore the red and white sneakers during his fifth NBA game while playing for the Chicago Bulls.
According to Sotheby’s, the sneakers set a world record for the highest amount paid for a pair of sneakers at auction. They also made history as the first pair of sneakers to sell at auction for more than £900,000.