California man's rare Nike shoes sell for tens of thousands

Among the shoemaker's earliest products

By Walter Makaula
Copyright 2019 CNN

An early pair of Nike "Moon shoes" sells for $50,000.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A Sacramento man was shocked when he learned how much a 47-year-old pair of running shoes in his garage was worth.

"For a long time, they were up in the rafters in my garage in a box next to my Christmas tree lights," said Dave Russell of Arden-Arcade.

The pair of old, sweaty, beat up running shoes was safely tucked away for nearly half a century.

In 1972, Russell was just 25 years old. He qualified for the Olympic trials in the marathon event. When he arrived in Eugene, Oregon, for the meet, he got a unique invitation by a new shoe company few had heard of -- called Nike.

"They invited us, ‘Please stop by our store. We have a couple of commemorative T-shirts that we'd like you to have. They're very special, and we'd like you to select a pair of shoes as a gift from us,'" Russell recalled.

The shoes were the first prototype of what is known today as the Nike Waffle Racing Moon Shoe -- and only ten athletes got them.

"You can imagine, back in ‘72, those were just something very exotic," Russell said. "They were handmade, the soles made on a waffle iron."

The shoes were also handsewn with fishing wire.

In 2016, a pair sold for $6,500. Last year, another pair that was missing the laces sold for $11,200. Russell was offered the same amount for his shoes, but his agent turned it down.

"They're in better condition, and they're worth more than that," Russell said. "He just threw a number out there to see if it would stick against the wall -- and it stuck against the wall. And, it was considerably, a fairly good amount of money."

Russell didn't want to disclose the final price they agreed on, but he said it was more than quadruple the pair that sold for $11,200.

"It couldn't have happened six months before or six months later," Russell said. "They're getting ready to open a store, ‘Hey money isn't an object. Those are rare shoes. We'd like them to be in our hotel.'"

The Graduate Eugene Hotel bought his pair of running shoes and now displays them among their 44-pair collection of some of the rarest Nike shoes ever made.

Russell said he's putting the money in a trust fund that will be left to his children.

Meanwhile, on July 24, 2019, a never before worn pair of Nike Moon Shoes sold for $437,500 making it the most expensive pair of shoes ever sold.

 

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