Bill Bowerman Handmade Waffle Spike Shoes
A pair of white waffle spike shoes handmade in the early 1970s is expected to fetch up to $150,000 at auction.
If that price seems high, that’s because these are no ordinary running sneakers. The sneakers are the very first shoes created by Bill Bowerman, co-founder of Nike and legendary track coach at the University of Oregon.
Sotheby’s said the shoes were the first and only handcrafted pair by Bill Bowerman ever to be auctioned. The shoes were made for John Mays, a runner on Bowerman’s track team, and have remained in his possession ever since. A second pair of Bowerman shoes lives in the academic archives of the Knight Library at the University of Oregon.
“Often Bill would tell me about a new company he was working with. I didn’t pay much attention to it at the time. One day he asked me to help him test out a new spiked shoe. sprint he was designing. Of course, I accepted and was delighted to be chosen,” Mays told Sotheby’s.
University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman and runner John Mays.
Bowerman partnered with Phil Knight in 1964 to start Blue Ribbon Sports. They renamed the company Nike in 1971. The reason these shoes are so valuable is that they serve as an original model and the first major innovation for the company. Today, the multi-billion dollar brand still uses this embossed design.
Bidding for the special online auction of a unique lot begins on Wednesday and continues until June 26. Sotheby’s said the shoes are among the most valuable pairs ever offered at auction.
Last month, the auction house sold an autographed pair of Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan 1s from his rookie season for a record $560,000.
“We felt that the only appropriate way to follow a sale of this magnitude was to offer something special that spoke to Nike’s history and heritage,” said Brahm Wachter, director of e-commerce development. at Sotheby’s.