- Sotheby's has sold an autographed pair of Air Jordan 1s for a record-breaking $560,000.
- Secondary market sites like StockX are also seeing a surge in Jordan sales.
- Experts say interest in Michael Jordan collectibles are at an all-time high following the premiere of the ESPN documentary "The Last Dance."
If Michael Jordan were a stock, analysts would have a buy rating on the former basketball icon.
After the airing of the ESPN and Netflix documentary "The Last Dance," sales of nearly every product associated with the six-time NBA champion are soaring to new heights.
In an online auction at Sotheby's, an autographed pair Air Jordan 1s sold for a record $560,000 on Sunday, setting the new world auction record for any pair of sneakers and attracting bidders as young as 19 years old.
"We saw tremendous bidding up until the moment the sale closed, with the value more than doubling in the final hour alone," said Brahm Wachter, Sotheby's Director of eCommerce Development. "That, coupled with strong international bidding from six countries on four continents, shows not only the incredible appeal of Michael Jordan as one of the most recognizable and legendary athletes of all time, but also that sneaker collecting is truly a global and growing market."
It has been nearly two decades since the 14-time NBA All-Star retired in 2003. While Nike's Jordan brand sales continue to rise -- the brand had its first billion-dollar quarter last December -- a new generation is growing up without ever having seen what many consider the greatest basketball player of all time.
As the highly anticipated footage from "The Last Dance" finally made air, it has helped revive everything associated with the Jordan brand. The 10-part documentary aired to record ratings and has reignited the conversation about Jordan. Twitter said that there were more than 11 million Tweets were about "The Last Dance," as the series aired. At the conclusion of the final episode, 20 of the 30 trending topics related to the documentary on Sunday night.
The newfound popularity has led to companies like StockX seeing record-breaking sales. The Detroit-based secondary sneaker marketplace said since the premiere of "The Last Dance," an unsigned version of Air Jordan 1s are selling on the site at an average price of $7,123.
"Prior to the documentary airing, we hadn't had a sale of this sneaker since 2017, and back then, it resold for $3,000. Thus, these latest sales represent a more than 100% increase in resale value," said StockX senior economist Jesse Einhorn.
The company said over the past month, Jordan Brand sneaker sales are up 38% and it's driving fans to their site.
"Each day the documentary has aired, we've seen a spike in traffic to Jordan catalog pages, with an average increase of 76% compared to a typical Sunday," Einhorn added.
"The Last Dance," chronicles Jordan's rise to fame with Nike being a huge part of that. Nike signed Air Jordan to its company in 1984 and has released a signature shoe every year since.
"I believe they have been pulling back (on supply) to keep the heat," said Sam Poser, a footwear analyst at Susquehanna group. "That's the key to success and failures of brands these days," he added.
According to NPD group footwear analyst Matt Powell, sales of Jordan brand have been trending somewhat better than the market. Nike declined to provide any sales data for its Jordan-branded products.
Data insight company GumGum analyzed the fifth episode of "The Last Dance" series and impact the exposure had on Jordan's sponsors. GumGum calculated that Nike and Jordan brand received more than nine minutes of exposure in a single episode, worth $487,000.
It's not just sneakers seeing the boost, but also collectibles and memorabilia. StockX, which also sells some memorabilia and collectible items, said prices are up 40% and sales are up 70% versus the previous month.
Michael Jordan trading cards saw the biggest increases. Sales of the Michael Jordan 1989 Hoops All-Star #21 have quadrupled, and prices for that card have doubled, since the documentary premiered last month.
"The interest and prices on Jordan memorabilia is at an all time high as a result of the Last Dance. It has truly established Jordan as the king and truly the Babe Ruth equivalent in basketball," said Ken Goldin, founder and CEO of Goldin Auctions.
Goldin gave an example showing the impact firsthand.
"A month prior to the airing of the show, a 1986 Michael Jordan PSA 10 (Gem Mint, highest grade) rookie card sold in the vicinity of $30,000. The night the show debuted five weeks ago, a record was set with a $50,000 sale of the card. In my current auction, the card is currently $98,000 and could possibly go higher," he said.
Goldin said the reason for the sharp rise in prices is due to simple principles of supply and demand.
"There is an insatiable demand for Jordan product and there is not enough supply of quality, vintage product to go around, so prices are escalating," he said.
At Fanatics, the largest online retailer of licensed sportswear and merchandise, Michael Jordan merchandise is up over 900% since the premiere of "The Last Dance." The company said the top-selling market is New York City, followed by Chicago.
eBay said that following the premiere of "The Last Dance," average one-day sales for Chicago Bulls items spiked a staggering 5,156% over what they averaged in the beginning of April. eBay shoppers were searching for Michael Jordan at an average of 821 queries per minute.
The company said that over the last decade more than 17 million Michael Jordan items have been sold on eBay.
When it comes to the GOAT of sales, Jordan is King over Lakers star Lebron James. eBay said that Michael Jordan sold about 500% more merchandise than James in 2019.
For fans and collectors that didn't get in on the action, it may be worth waiting.
"I believe the prices might be near a high point, and there will be some cooling off at some unknown date, but I think his status and his prices across the board are permanently elevated," said Goldin.