PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The shiny, gold Nike sneakers were hard to miss in the donation pile at a shelter in Portland, Oregon, earlier this year.
They were Air Jordan 3s, size 12 1/2, and one of just a few custom pairs that had been made for filmmaker Spike Lee. Now they’re up for auction, where they could fetch $20,000 to benefit the shelter.
The shoes were anonymously dropped in the donation chute at the Portland Rescue Mission in the spring. A formerly homeless man in the mission’s long-term shelter program found them while sorting through donations and brought them to the attention of the staff, according to a blog post on the mission’s website this week.
Nike designer Tinker Hatfield designed the kicks in 2019 for Lee, who wore his pair to the Academy Awards that year when he accepted an Oscar for his “BlacKkKlansmen” screenplay. The donated sneakers weren’t Lee’s personal pair, but were among a few made for him to give out to his inner circle, the Portland Rescue Mission said.
Hatfield visited the shelter and authenticated the shoes. He also signed a replacement box and donated other Nike merchandise. The company is based in nearby Beaverton, Oregon.
“I’m thrilled the shoes ended up here,” Hatfield said in a statement shared by the Portland Rescue Mission. “It’s a happy ending to a really great project.”
The shoes are on auction at Sotheby’s until Monday, and could fetch $15,000 to $20,000, according to the auction house. Sotheby’s is waiving its fee, so all of the proceeds will benefit the shelter, which has helped people struggling with homelessness, hunger and addiction since 1949.
The identity of whoever donated the shoes remains a mystery.
Editor’s note: The image in the story is not of the shoes found at the Portland Rescue Mission. They are the ones Lee wore to the Oscars.