Early handmade Nike running shoes could fetch €1m in Olympian auction

Nike founder Bill Bowerman made runners for Canadian bronze medallist

The Tokyo Olympics is shaping up to be an Olympics like no other, so it's fitting that Sotheby's of New York is offering a pair of running spikes like no other.

The shoes were handmade by Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman for Canadian track and field athlete Harry Jerome, who set seven world records, and are estimated at $800,000-$1.2 million (€677,224-€1,015,836). Jerome won bronze for Canada in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo in the 100 metres – the last time the games were held in Japan.

Bowerman was considered to be one of the world’s greatest innovators in shoe design. These shoes use four prototype logos, which appear to be the forerunner of the famous Nike Swoosh. They also feature waffle soles under each set of track spikes. The waffle soles were inspired by his wife’s waffle iron and first appeared on the Nike Moon shoe at the 1972 Olympic trials.

The shoe uppers show wear, but the waffles, spikes and bottoms are in mint condition because, while he made the shoes in the 1960s, he modified them with the current soles in the early 1970s. They were never worn after that.


Bidding opened on Sotheby’s Olympic collection, which includes these shoes, yesterday, July 23rd, and will close on August 2nd. Another item of note in the collection is a pair of some of the rarest Michael Jordan sneakers in existence, worn and signed by the athlete.

The Converse Fastbreak sneakers, estimated at $80,000-$100,000 (€67,722-€84,653), were manufactured in 1983 and worn by the basketball player during the 1984 Olympic trials. He went on to win two gold medals in those Olympics in Los Angeles and he would win again in the 1992 games when he was part of the “dream team”, later collectively inducted into the US Olympic Hall of Fame.

Michael Jordan wore Converse during his college years, preferring them to Nike because they were lower to the ground. This was one of his prerequisites when he worked with Nike to design the Air Jordan 1.

The sneakers (US size 13) have also been signed by other members of the Olympic trials.

Viking props to plunder

But if you’re drawn to swords rather than sneakers, then an upcoming auction of props from Vikings and Game of Thrones will be of interest. More than 500 lots will go under the hammer at Seán Eacrett’s latest fine art and antique auction in Ballybrittas, Co Laois, on Monday, July 26th.

The online auction features 120 lots of props from the six Vikings series, mainly filmed in Co Wicklow, but it also has two items of interest from Game of Thrones. They are giant metal candelabras and come with an estimate of €400-€800.

The Laois auctioneer’s Hollywood auctions have become a regular event since he first dipped his toe in the water with a sold-out auction of Penny Dreadful props five years ago. His film clients now include MGM, Showtime and AMC. He is expecting interest from international collectors for the sale but says some of the more unusual items might also suit a pub or a commercial buyer in the hospitality industry.

Highlights among the Viking lots include King Ivor’s throne from season four, and King Alfred’s throne from seasons five and six, both seeking €300-€500 and Aslaug’s boat chair from season two (€200-€400.) And for anyone in the market for a medieval-style birthing table, the Viking version is guiding €100-€200.

Eacrett is hoping that the recent boom in film-making in Ireland will lead to a few more Hollywood auctions for him.

“Every film auction has been a 100 per cent sell-out,” he says. “Basically I am selling the props, sets and costumes for them at a commission. Otherwise they would have to be stored or sold cheaply.”

The online nature of these auctions has proven to be a major boost for Eacrett. When he auctioned a warehouse of props from the Into the Badlands series last year, his biggest buyer clicked on from Lithuania and bought up two 40-foot container loads of props.

Lifetime collection

Still on unusual offerings, a porthole window and a ship’s telegraph from the SS Dundalk are among the items being auctioned today, Saturday July 24th, by Lev Mitchell and Milltown Country Auction Rooms in Dundalk.

They are part of a lifetime collection amassed by the late Desmond Morgan. The sale includes the contents of a blacksmith’s forge and engineering works, an oak horse cart and wheelbarrows handcrafted by Morgan, and a large collection of vintage farm machinery. There are no estimates on the items. The sale will be held on site, at Priorland Road, Dundalk at 11am.