At a private party in London, one of the world's most coveted pieces of footwear is the centerpiece. Soccer pros, film fans, and sneaker collectors hover around, testing the limits of each other's pocket books while placing silent bids to own the limited edition sneaker. The shoe is the Nike Mag, originally a prop from Back to the Future: Part II that became a reality this year, self-lacing technology and all. Emerging victorious is sneaker care product company Crep Protect, whose founders attended the event, with a winning bid of £46,000 (around $56,000) at the auction on Friday, Oct. 14.
"It was crazy, cause you never expect to win, you don't know—it's a blind bid so you don't know," said Crep Protect founder Jason Black of his reaction to his company winning the shoes. "It's literally just crazy, it's the weirdest feeling."
The Nike Mag released once before, arriving in 2011 without the self-lacing feature originally promised by Back to the Future. Like that year's release, 2016's is a charity one that has all its proceeds going to Parkinson's research at the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Nike made 89 pairs available this year, selling three through charity auctions like the one Black attended in London. He says that aspect of the release helped convince him to pay the wild price and go over the max bid he and the Crep Protect team had in mind.
"We did kinda have a [maximum] figure that we were going to do," he explained. "But when it's the charity you start thinking about it more, thinking about the cause and stuff, and you just think, 'You know what, maybe we could go a bit more.'"
Black says that he skipped Nike's The Draw release, the cheaper but less sure route through which the majority of the 89 pairs were made available, opting only for the high stakes charity auction. He's proud of the purchase, but had a moment at the auction where the reality of the price tag hit him.
"At first it was like, it didn't really sink in," Black said. "As time goes on, every minute, it's like oh you know what, shit, this is actually coming home. You know what I mean? And then you think about the money and you're like, 'Whoa.' Obviously then, you know, you realize the reason you was doing it for anyway and then it's fine."
While most of these coveted shoes will go into personal collections, the winning bid was made on behalf of Crep Protect, so the Nike Mags belong to the company more than anyone. The shoes provide a big opportunity for the company, which has made headlines in the past by proving the mettle of its products by testing them out on wildly expensive pairs. Black is tight-lipped about whether he'll be dipping the Nike Mags in a bucket of chocolate or sending them to outer space, but don't be surprised if that happens. In the meantime, he says they will live at Crep Protect's headquarters where people will be welcome to try them. The company will also bring the Mags to local sneaker shows to put on display.
Black doesn't have the auto-lacing Mag in his possession just yet: the one he's seen toting in photos from the event is a display pair. Nike is set to deliver the pair won by the Crep Protect founder at a later date.
While the price Black paid is a hefty one, it's not even the most that a pair of Nike Mags has sold for. Earlier in October, a 2016 self-lacing pair sold for around $104,000 in Hong Kong.
The final Nike Mag charity auction will take place on Nov. 12 at the Michael J. Fox Foundation's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson's gala in New York City. So far, Nike has raised $6.75 million for Parkinson's research with its 2016 charity release of the Mag.