Sotheby’s Cult Canvas Overview

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The auction which came to a close in late September 2020, was released with a line-up of some truly unique and historical pieces. A pair of Future Nike Dunk SB High’s were sold fo $63,000USD – the highest amount ever paid for a Nike SB Dunk publicly. A pair of original DS 1985 Breds, ‘What The Dunks”, and a signed Jeff Staple Pigeon dunk – there really were some pairs for the collectors. Find below the 8 items that were sold with images and product descriptions provided by Sotheby’s.

Nike Dunk High Pro SB ‘FLOM’ Sale Price: $63,000

Size 8


Brooklyn local Leonard Hilton McGurr, known as Futura, is one of the founding fathers of the graffiti movement in New York. Futura started his career in the 1970s tagging subway walls as Futura 2000, a nod to his favorite movie 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick). Futura belongs to a notable group of artists that came out of New York City during this period, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Dondi White, all of whom exhibited at The Fun Gallery in the 80s. Futura is an admired illustrator, photographer, and fashion designer whose art touches many different spheres of public life. 

Perhaps Futura’s most important contribution to graffiti art was the way he abstracted it, often blending his work’s text and imagery. His influence was felt far outside street art, as Futura would go on to collaborate with punk band The Clash, creating live works during their concerts and also designing their album art. Futura’s work can be found in the collections of the Musée de Vire, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Museo de Arte Moderna di Bologna. 

This particular work, ‘FLOM,’ an acronym meaning ‘For Love or Money,’ encompasses a pattern that was created from different denominations of printed money. 

Only 24 of the works were made. Most were distributed to friends and family, making this lot incredibly difficult to find and among the most coveted examples desired by collectors worldwide. 

Nike Dunk Low Pro SB ‘Paris’ Production Test/Sample Sale Price: –

Size 8.5


Perhaps the most popular and recognizable Nike Dunks in existence, this extremely rare pair is a Production Test/Sample of the famous ‘Paris’ SB Dunk. Production Test/Samples are extremely rare production runs that are created before the regular release while Nike is testing various aspects of the design. Approximately 200 pairs of the regular release were made for Nike’s traveling White Dunk Exhibition in 2003, an exhibit that featured several extremely limited SB Dunks created for the tour’s host cities. This pair in ‘Rope/Special Cardinal’ colors (utilizing tan-suede) represents Paris and features canvas overlays containing the artwork of French painter Bernard Buffet. 

Born in Paris in 1928, Bernard Buffet was a prolific French expressionist painter who is best remembered as a bold rejector of abstract painting and part of the anti-abstraction group L’homme Témoin, which campaigned for the importance of representational art during a time when abstraction was a key trend throughout the art world. His some 8,000 works cover a plethora of concepts throughout art history including death, sex, politics and pop culture. Mr. Buffet was inducted into the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1974. 

As the canvas on each pair was cut differently, each pair of Paris SB Dunks is unique. Perhaps the most desirable elements were Buffet’s clown and ballerina, which are both represented on this pair, but absent in many others. 

These Dunks are extraordinarily unusual as they are a production sample, making them far more rare than the regular release.

This pair was not publicly sold in the auction.

Nike Dunk Low Pro SB “What the Dunk” Sale Price: $8,190

Size 11


Designed by Nike designer James Arizumi, the ‘What the Dunk’ stands today as one of Nike SB’s most popular and recognizable models. The work itself was created from 31 separate Nike SB Dunks, with a design goal to be the “Dunk to end all Dunks.” Nike claims the creation of the What the Dunk was “painstaking, meticulous, and ridiculous on purpose.”

The sneakers themselves are a mismatch, or patchwork, of different design elements from 31 popular Nike SB designs. Together, they make for one of the most coveted models of sneakers that Nike ever released. Some notable elements include an embroidered pigeon incorporated from the Pigeon SB Dunk, and neon ‘Jedi’ laces, a nod to the Jedi Dunk. The sneakers also include elements of the Paris SB Dunks, London SB Dunks and Tweed SB dunks, among others.  

The What the Dunk has additionally become an inspiration for a wide variety of other Nike releases and special editions including the “What the Doernbecher”, the “What the Kobe 7,” and the “What the LeBron”, among others. Mr. Arizumi said, “Years later, who would have guessed the concept would be duplicated many times over within Nike and beyond.”

Nike Dunk Low Pro SB ‘NYC Pigeon’ Dual-Signed by Jeff Staple Sale Price: $25,200

Size 10


This sneaker is often credited as the release that brought sneaker culture into the mainstream zeitgeist. Designed by Jeff Staple of Staple Design, the 2005 release of this sneaker was perhaps one of the wildest Nike drops in history. When release day came for this pair, a line formed outside of Reed Space, Jeff’s Lower East Side storefront. The crowd grew so large that the New York City Police were called to keep things in order and make sure that lucky purchasers were able to get home safely. The attention on the release made the cover of the New York Post, and to this day remains an extraordinary example of the power of streetwear hype. 

The design itself is inspired by the ubiquitous NYC pigeon, with an outsole featuring a pigeon-foot like color, and a pigeon embroidered on the heel. 

With only approximately 150 pairs ever produced, this pair – in exceptional condition – is made even more rare as it is signed by Jeff Staple himself.

Nike Dunk Low SB Piet Parra ‘Friends and Family’   Sale Price: $4,788

Size 9


Pieter Janssen, known as Piet Parra, is a Dutch artist that currently works out of Amsterdam. A painter and animator, Parra produces bold imagery that feature figures with elongated, almost beak-like noses. 

This special edition dunk low was produced for friends and family only.

This bears resemblance to the regular Parra dunks which feature similar insole patterns and swoosh colourways.

Nike Dunk SB Low Katsuya Terada Unreleased Sample   Sale Price: $5,292

Size 5.5


Katsuya Terada is a Japanese illustrator and cartoonist from the town of Tamano, Okayama. Mr. Terada’s work ranges broadly from manga and novel illustration to character designs for games and anime. In 2013, Kyoto International Manga Museum held a 10 year retrospective of Mr. Terada’s work. 

This unreleased SB Dunk, designed for Nike’s traveling White Dunk Exhibition in 2003, is one of just 12 in existence.

At the time, Mr. Mark Parker, the former CEO of Nike, reached out to various esteemed artists and designers and asked them to take inspiration from the Nike SB Dunk to create their very own work of art. Mr. Terada was one of these artists, and these dunks are a reflection of that request.

Nike Air Jordan 1 High OG ‘Bred’ (1985)   Sale Price: $15,120

Size 11.5


The Nike “Air Jordan 1” is one of the most iconic designs in the history of both streetwear and basketball, and is a key part of the origin of the Air Jordan brand for Nike. Designed by Peter Moore, the sneaker has remained an instant classic since its commercial release in 1985. 

In 1984, Nike gave Michael Jordan his own signature line of shoes and clothes, which was pivotal in Michael agreeing to sign with Nike. It was the first time the brand did anything like this, and it paved the way for many of the player collaborations we now see. The term “Air Jordan” was coined by Michael Jordan’s agent David Falk. David apparently came up with name because Nike shoes had air in the soles and because, of course, Michael Jordan played basketball in the air.

In terms of the shoe itself, the original Air Jordan 1s were so popular and successful that Nike continued to make new signature Air Jordans each season. This tradition continued beyond Michael’s retirement, and Nike is currently on the Air Jordan 34. From the day it launched, Air Jordans have always represented the pinnacle of sneaker design. The shoes are unmatched when it comes to quality, craftsmanship, materials, innovation, performance, and of course style.

This sneaker in black and red or ‘bred,’ is a retail pair from 1985 in pristine condition, particularly when noting the age of the item. Most notably, it is the pair from the famous ‘Banned’ Nike commercial. 

In 1984, Michael Jordan’s black and red shoes (Air Ships) became controversial after the NBA sent a letter to Nike in February of 1985 informing the company that Jordan’s colorful shoes were a violation of the league’s uniformity of uniform clause. Nike responded by creating an ad campaign around Jordan’s ‘banned’ shoes (advertising this particular model), remarking that while “the NBA threw them out of the game, fortunately, the NBA can’t stop you from wearing them.” 

The Air Jordan brand was created in the wake of the famous banned Nike ad campaign, and established MJ as the league’s leader in shoe style.

Nike Dunk Low Pro SB ‘Gardener Wood’   Sale Price: $7,560

Size 8


Michael Lau, known as the “godfather of designer toys,” is an important figure in the worldwide collectables scene. Originating from Hong Kong, Lau’s fame is largely due to his talents in illustration and toy design. His work has had a significant influence on toy manufacturers, street culture, as well as other artists and musicians. Lau held his first solo painting exhibition at the Pao Galleries of the Hong Kong Arts Centre in 1993.

This work, released in 2006 from a very limited production run, is based on Lau’s skateboarding comic strip, Gardener. The dark brown and wood imitating uppers of the sneaker feature four skateboard imitating drill holes on the ankles. 

The sneakers come with a beautifully finished wood box and vinyl toy.

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