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Auction for Virgil Abloh-Signed Sneakers Raises Funds for a Good Cause

Virgil Abloh fans left unsated by the new, 352-page book on the Off-White founder’s Nike collaborations now have a chance to bid on a pair of prototype Louis Vuitton trainers signed by the designer himself.

Sotheby’s opened bidding on the Louis Vuitton I (RED) LV Trainer Prototype Monday. Proceeds from the single-lot, online-only auction—the luxury goods broker estimates it will yield $30,000 to $40,000—will support the non-profit organization (RED) in its fight against AIDS and Covid-19. As of Friday morning, the bid stood at $26,000. Bidding is scheduled to close March 4.

Unlike the sneakers seen in Louis Vuitton’s actual production launch, the trainers in question sport a bright red side grid. They are a men’s size 9 UK (9.5 US), the standard Louis Vuitton prototype shoe size. Sotheby’s describes the sneakers as “in excellent overall condition,” except for a slight smudge at the top of Abloh’s signature.

Sotheby's is auctioning off a pair of Louis Vuitton trainers signed by Virgil Abloh
Louis Vuitton I (RED) LV Trainer Prototype Sotheby's

Abloh unveiled the LV trainer at Louis Vuitton’s Spring/Summer 2019 show, his first as artistic director of menswear at the luxury maison. The French fashion house now offers more than 20 variations on the shoe, including a blue denim trainer and a $5,250 sneaker encrusted with black crystals.

“Virgil’s creative genius and support of (RED)’s work is an inspiring example of how art and philanthropy can come together to make a real impact,” Jen Lotito, (RED) president and chief operating officer, said in a statement. “(RED) is honored to partner with Louis Vuitton, Virgil Abloh and the Sotheby’s team on this exciting auction in support of our mission to fight AIDS and Covid-19.”

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(RED) has generated more than $650 million to date for the Global Fund to support HIV/AIDS grants, largely in sub-Saharan Africa, Sotheby’s said. Grants that it supports have impacted 180 million people with prevention, treatment, counseling, HIV testing and care services. Today, it continues to support these programs, as well as efforts to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.

Sotheby’s has partnered with (RED) several times over the years, raising a total of nearly $80 million. The broker plans to donate 100 percent of the hammer price and buyer’s premium from the current auction to the organization.

“We are extremely excited to present this special LV Trainer prototype, signed by Virgil himself, especially for such an important cause,” Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s director of e-commerce development, said in a statement. “Sotheby’s has a long history in partnering with (RED) over the last 10 years, and we look forward to continuing to support their crucial work in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We hope this dedicated sneaker auction will excite collectors and help raise funds to support (RED)’s mission.”

The Abloh-signed trainers come less than two weeks after Sotheby’s sale of another pair of high-profile kicks. Listed for $25,000, the sneakers represented the single confirmation sample of custom Nike Hyperdunks designed for former President Barack Obama. The exclusive shoes reflected the “United We Rise” Hyperdunk created for and worn by Team USA at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games. Custom details included the official Presidential Seal on the tongue, embroidered 44’s on the upper and patriotic graphics such as bald eagles and the date “1776” throughout the insole.

Meanwhile, one eBay user is continuing to search for someone to pay $1 million for a pair of original 1985 Air Jordan 1 sneakers formerly owned by Michael Jordan himself, though the auction has attracted more than 1,100 watchers as of Friday morning. The steep price nearly doubles the final bid in an auction Sotheby’s held last May for a similar pair of Jordans. Following a $300,000 surge in the auction’s final 20 minutes, those shoes sold for $560,000.