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Sneaker addict Michael Fan gets his kicks from million-dollar collection

Alice Coster, May 5, 2022 6:30PM Kids News

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Sneaker collector Michael Fan with his prized pair of Air Jordan Chicago sneakers, which were worn by basketball super star Michael Jordan during the 1985-86 NBA season. Picture: Jake Nowakowski media_cameraSneaker collector Michael Fan with his prized pair of Air Jordan Chicago sneakers, which were worn by basketball super star Michael Jordan during the 1985-86 NBA season. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

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A Melbourne basement is home to one of the world’s top sneaker collections, including a pair of Air Jordans valued at almost $1 million.

What started off as a teenage basketball hobby has turned into an addiction for Michael Fan, who now lays claim to what’s hailed* as one of the five best sneaker collections on the planet.

Stored away in the basement of his family home in the suburb of Berwick is what sneakerheads* describe as the Mona Lisa* of shoes: a pair of Air Jordans valued at just shy of a million dollars.

“My love for sneakers came because of basketball. I love this game and I used to see players walking onto the court wearing Air Jordans and I thought they were really cool,” Mr Fan said. “So I started tracking how to find exclusive* pairs. I began tracking them online around 2004, trying to find these exclusive sneakers on eBay or Instagram and make connections with sellers and collectors.”

media_cameraSome of Michael Fan’s sneaker collection on display in the basement of his house in the Melbourne suburb of Berwick. Picture: supplied

Mr Fan is a god among sneakerheads. He has more than 15 million global followers who rave about his rare “game worn”, “player exclusive” collection on his YouTube videos.

He describes the home he shares with his wife and two young children as a sneaker museum, with the 700-odd meticulously* curated* shoes kept in display boxes, each with their own handmade plaque, telling the story “or narrative” behind the shoe.

Forget wearing them to the local court – to sneakerheads, these shoes are art.

Mr Fan’s Mona Lisa is a dual signed pair of Air Jordan Chicagos, game worn by Michael Jordan during the 1985-86 NBA season. The left shoe is a size 13 and the right a 13.5 to fit the star’s famously mismatched feet.

Michael Fan, Sneaker Collector media_cameraMichael Fan’s Air Jordan Chicagos are thought to be worth close to $1 million. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

Mr Fan, 36, said a similar but inferior* pair was recently sold at auction for $750,000.

“They are kind of priceless, it’s hard to find another pair,” he said.

eBay sneaker expert Alistair Low said the sneaker addiction had exploded in recent years, with a pair sold every two minutes on the online marketplace.

After launching the “authenticator* guarantee” last year for safety from fakes and counterfeits*, the sneaker category had grown in triple-digit figures on eBay in brands such as Nike, Jordan and Adidas Yeezy.

Mr Low likened it to the New York Stock Exchange*, with buyers and sellers trading in sneakers worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Michael Fan, Sneaker Collector media_cameraMichael Fan’s collection also includes this pair of sneakers signed by basketball star LeBron James from his Miami Heat days. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

GLOSSARY

  • hailed: publicly praised, cheered, showed approval for
  • sneakerheads: people who love sneakers
  • Mona Lisa: masterpiece by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci, considered to be the most famous painting in the world
  • exclusive: limited to only one person or group of people
  • meticulously: very carefully, showing great attention to detail
  • curated: selected, organised and presented
  • inferior: of lesser quality, not as good
  • authenticator: a person or thing that authenticates or proves that something is what it claims to be
  • counterfeits: copies of something that claim to be originals
  • New York Stock Exchange: famous place where shares in businesses or stock are bought and sold with the goal of making a profit

EXTRA READING

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Kanye West’s sneakers sell for record $1.8 million

Record price for Michael Jordan’s rookie shoes

QUICK QUIZ

  1. Where does Michael Fan keep his sneaker collection?
  2. How many sneakers are in his collection?
  3. What are the “Mona Lisa” sneakers of Michael Fan’s collection?
  4. Who wore these sneakers?
  5. What size are they?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. What do you think?
“A million dollars for an old pair of basketball sneakers is a waste of money!” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Write paragraphs explaining your opinion.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Health and Physical Education

2. Extension
If you could write the story of the shoes you are wearing today, (or a pair of shoes that you own) what would it be? Use your imagination to make the story of your shoes as interesting as you can!

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and Creative Thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
Sneaker disaster
Mr Fan has some amazing sneakers in his collection. He is also has two young children.

Write a follow up article about a disaster that has occurred at Mr Fan’s home. (Of course we hope it never actually happens and he, his family and his sneakers stay perfectly safe.)

Use you VCOP skills to engage the audience in your short article.

Think about:

  • Who is involved?
  • What happened?
  • Can it be fixed?
  • How is everyone feeling?

Extra Reading in just for fun