The kicks worn by the American rapper during the 2008 Grammy Awards have been acquired by sneaker investment marketplace RARES.

Musician Kanye West performs onstage wearing his Nike Air Yeezy sneakers during the 50th annual Grammy awards in California on February 10, 2008.
Musician Kanye West performs onstage wearing his Nike Air Yeezy sneakers during the 50th annual Grammy awards in California on February 10, 2008. (AFP)

A pair of Nike Air Yeezy 1s worn by rapper Kanye West have sold for $1.8 million, triple the previous record for sneakers, Sotheby's said.

The shoes beat the record held by a pair of Nike Air Jordan 1s which sold for $615,000 in August 2020 at a Christie's auction.

"The sale marks the highest publicly recorded price for a sneaker sale ever," Sotheby's said in a statement on Monday. 

"The sale also marks the first pair of sneakers to top $1 million," it added.

The black high top Yeezys were worn by West during the 2008 Grammy Awards as he performed "Hey Mama" and "Stronger."

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A pair of 'Nike Air Yeezy 1' prototype sneakers designed by Kanye West, are displayed at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on April 16, 2021.
A pair of 'Nike Air Yeezy 1' prototype sneakers designed by Kanye West, are displayed at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on April 16, 2021. (Reuters)

Rare athletic footwear

The sneakers, which were part of a collaboration between Nike and West, were prototypes, with the resulting model not going on sale until April 2009.

The shoes were acquired by RARES, a sneaker investment marketplace that allows users to invest in rare pairs of athletic footwear.

Individuals can buy shares in a pair, just as investors buy stock in a company.

RARES bought the Air Yeezy 1s through a private sale from sneaker collector Ryan Chang.

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A visitor looks at a pair of 'Nike Air Yeezy 1' prototype sneakers designed by Kanye West, before the sneakers go up for private sale at Sotheby's, in Hong Kong on April 16, 2021.
A visitor looks at a pair of 'Nike Air Yeezy 1' prototype sneakers designed by Kanye West, before the sneakers go up for private sale at Sotheby's, in Hong Kong on April 16, 2021. (Reuters)

'Industry titan'

Brahm Wachter, head of streetwear and new collectibles at Sotheby's, said the price "speaks volumes of Kanye's legacy as one of the most influential clothing and sneaker designers of our time, and of the Yeezy franchise he has built which has become an industry titan."

Before collaborating with West, Nike had named shoes only in honour of famous athletes.

The Air Yeezy 1 was released, in limited edition in 2009, followed by the Air Yeezy 2 in 2012.

Most Air Yeezy 1s sell for between $2,000 and $4,000, depending on the model.

West initially teamed up with Nike before switching to Adidas to create his own line.

Yeezy sneakers generated nearly $1.7 billion in revenue in 2020, according to an internal note from UBS bank, reported by Bloomberg.

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Source: AFP