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Michael Jordan’s ‘Last Dance’ jersey fetches a record $10.1 million

Jack Guy, CNN | Oscar Holland, CNN

A jersey worn by basketball star Michael Jordan during one of the most famous seasons in his NBA career sold for a record $10.1 million at a New York auction Thursday.

The eight-figure sum was more than double initial estimates, setting a new auction record for a piece of game-worn sports memorabilia, according to Sotheby’s, which organized the sale.

Jordan wore the Chicago Bulls jersey in Game 1 of the 1998 NBA Finals, the culmination of a famous season known as “The Last Dance” that featured in a 2020 ESPN and Netflix documentary series of the same name. On June 3, 1998 Jordan pulled on the jersey for a game against the Utah Jazz, scoring 33 points in 45 minutes in a Bulls loss.

The Bulls went on to win the championship despite major internal divisions that had affected their season, with Jordan gaining his sixth NBA winners ring.

It is one of only two of his jerseys worn in a finals game to ever appear at auction, said Sotheby’s, which billed it as “one of the most significant items from Michael Jordan’s career.”

In a statement, Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectables, said the sale “solidifies Michael Jordan as the undisputed GOAT (greatest of all time), proving his name and incomparable legacy is just as relevant as it was nearly 25 years ago.”

Prior to the sale, Wachter had called the 1997-1998 season “perhaps one of the most popular among Jordan fans, as Michael was reaching the height of his abilities while simultaneously pursuing what he understood would be his last chance at an NBA Championship with the Chicago Bulls.”

“The season itself is his ‘magnum opus’ as an athlete, and a testament to him as a champion and competitor,” he added in a press release. “Finals jerseys from Jordan are remarkably scant, and the 1997-1998 Finals are arguably the most coveted of them all.”

The pre-sale estimate of $3 million to $5 million was the highest ever for a Jordan jersey, or any piece of Jordan memorabilia, the auction house had said.

The $10.1 million sale price realized on Thursday means it is now the most expensive basketball jersey ever to sell at auction, far surpassing the $3.7 million paid for one of Kobe Bryant’s last year. The item also broke the game-worn sports memorabilia record held by Argentinian soccer legend Diego Maradona’s shirt from the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal against England, said Sotheby’s. The blue soccer jersey was sold to an anonymous buyer for $9.3 million earlier this year.

In October 2021, a pair of Nike Air Ships sneakers, worn by Jordan, sold for $1.47 million at auction. The basketball star wore the red and white sneakers during his fifth NBA game in his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls on November 1, 1984.

The shoes set a world record for the highest price achieved for a pair of sneakers at auction, according to Sotheby’s. They also became the first pair of sneakers to sell for more than $1 million at auction.

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