Brought to you by Newscorp Australia

Kanye West’s Yeezy sneakers smash sale record

May 2, 2021 2:30PM Reuters

Print Article

The Nike Air Yeezy 1 Prototype sneakers worn by Kanye West at the 2008 Grammy Awards have sold for a record $US1.8 million. Picture: Sotheby's media_cameraThe Nike Air Yeezy 1 Prototype sneakers worn by Kanye West at the 2008 Grammy Awards have sold for a record $US1.8 million. Picture: Sotheby's

just for fun

Reading level: green

The Kanye West sneakers that put athletic shoes on fashion runways around the globe have sold for $US1.8 million ($2.32 million Australian), a new world record price for a pair of sneakers.

The American rapper’s 2008 ‘Grammy Worn’ Nike Air Yeezy samples were prototypes* for a line developed by West and Nike creative director Mark Smith.

They were first unveiled* during West’s performance at the 2008 Grammy Awards.

media_cameraKanye West wears his Nike Air Yeezy sneakers at the 2008 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California. Picture: Kevin Winter/Getty Images North America/AFP.

The sneakers were bought by RARES, a company that buys expensive shoes and then allows other buyers to purchase a share of the items as an investment.

The private sale by Sothebys on April 26 shattered the current auction record for sneakers. That record is $US560,000 ($723,000 Australian) that Sotheby’s scored in May 2020 for a pair of 1985 Air Jordan 1s, designed for and worn by basketball great Michael Jordan.

West’s size 12 black leather Nike Air Yeezy 1 Prototypes have a Yeezy forefoot strap and the brand’s signature Y medallion lace locks in pink.

They were put up for sale at Sotheby’s by New York collector Ryan Chang.

West wore the sneakers performing songs Hey Mama and Stronger at the 2008 Grammy Awards, setting off a social media frenzy.

media_cameraThe black high-top Yeezys were bought by RARES. Picture: AFP photo/courtesy of Sotheby’s.

West ended his collaboration* with Nike in 2013 and took the brand to competitor Adidas, where the Yeezy brand of sneakers brought in an estimated $US1.7 billion ($2.2 billion Australian) in sales in 2020, according to Forbes.

Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectables, Brahm Wachter, said: “The sale speaks volumes of Kanye’s legacy* as one of the most influential clothing and sneaker designers of our time.”


  • prototype: first version of a product
  • unveiled: shown for the first time
  • collaboration: working with someone
  • legacy: something that is left by a person as a gift to others


Digital artwork snapped up for $90 million

Old video game sells for $164,000

Record price for Michael Johnson’s rookie shoes


  1. How much did the Kanye West sample sneakers sell for in US dollars?
  2. When and where did West first wear the sneakers?
  3. What was the previous record for sneakers?
  4. Which rival sneaker company picked up the West collaboration when the star left Nike?
  5. Which sporting legend inspired the Air range?


1. Sharing opinions
In a group of 3 or 4, take turns to share your opinion on whether you think $US1.8 million is a fair price to pay for a pair of shoes. Each person should state their opinion and explain the reasons for their point of view. Allow each person to speak without interruption; jot down any thoughts, counter-arguments or questions you might have for them. Once everyone has had their turn, go around the group again to share and respond to one another’s comments and questions. Practise responding respectfully, even when your opinions differ.

Following your discussion, each person should jot down a brief (1-2 sentences) summary of what each person in your group thought.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Personal and Social Capability

2. Extension
Design the greatest pair of shoes in the world! Draw them and add labels to explain the amazing features. Make them as crazy as you dare!

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Visual Arts

Punctuation Thief
Pick a paragraph from the article, or about 3 sentences together if that’s easier, and rewrite it without the punctuation. At the bottom of the page write a list of all the punctuation you stole and in the order you stole it. For example; C , . C .

Then swap your book with another person and see if they can work out where the punctuation needs to go back to.

Make it easier: Underline where you stole the punctuation from but don’t put the list at the bottom in order.

Make it harder: Don’t put the punctuation in order at the bottom.

Underline where you took the punctuation from, but don’t tell them what pieces you took.

Just tell them how many pieces you took, but not what they are.

Don’t give them any clues!

Extra Reading in just for fun