Muhammad Ali's 'Fight of the Century' animated illustration NFT highlights 'The Olympic Collection' at Sotheby's

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Muhammad Ali's 'Fight of the Century' animated illustration NFT highlights 'The Olympic Collection' at Sotheby's
Starring in the sale is a never-before-seen piece of original artwork created by Muhammad Ali that will be unveiled for the first time, leveraging NFT technology (estimate $10/20,000). Courtesy Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s unveiled the full contents of The Olympic Collection, an online auction featuring the rarest memorabilia and collectibles spotlighting the achievements of legendary athletes who participated in the Games across the world of sport and which celebrates the unifying spirit embodied by the Games. Encompassing 64 items, a nod to the last time Japan hosted the Olympics in 1964 – the items span sneakers, memorabilia, and collectibles, and will feature a tokenized, never-before-seen work of art by Muhammad Ali that is being reanimated, revealed for the first time leveraging NFT technology (estimate $10/20,000). On offer from Muhammad Ali Enterprises, the piece depicts Ali’s interpretation of the legendary 1971 Fight of the Century against Joe Frazier, who, along with Ali, was an Olympic Gold Medal winner (1964, Tokyo). The assortment of rare collectibles offered in the sale also features a 1986/87 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan Rookie Card (estimate $250/450,000); two pairs of Nike Waffle Racing Flats ‘Moon Shoes’ (estimate $75/100,000); Bill Bowerman (Nike Co-Founder) Modified Arthur Lydiard Waffle Shoe (estimate $60/70,000); Nike Air Jordan VII Retro ‘Olympic’ Player Exclusives (Four Pairs) (estimate $30/$40,000), and more.

As previously announced, the auction is led by an extremely rare pair of ‘Prototype Logo’ track spikes handmade by Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman for Canadian Track and Field sprinter and Olympian Harry Jerome in the 1960s and modified in the early 1970s (estimate $800,000/1,200,000); and a pair of Converse Fastbreak sneakers worn by Michael Jordan during the 1984 Olympic Trials (estimate $80/100,000).

Full contents of the online sale are now live on


Starring in the sale is a never-before-seen piece of original artwork created by Muhammad Ali that will be unveiled for the first time, leveraging NFT technology (estimate $10/20,000). The NFT is an animation of an original illustration done by Ali, which still hangs in the Ali family residence. The work was part of Ali’s personal portfolio. The 1-of-1 NFT depicts Ali’s interpretation of the Fight of the Century, widely regarded as one of the biggest boxing matches in history and is still considered one of the most publicized sporting events ever. This legendary boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 8, 1971. The NFT will be a 50-second loop honoring the 50th anniversary of the legendary fight, with the crowd erupting in applause for 15 seconds to symbolize the fight’s 15 rounds. In the work, Ali uses small marker points to reflect the size of the crowd.

“This mixed media illustration by Muhammad has been hanging in our home for almost 20 years and was a part of his personal art portfolio that he amassed throughout his life,” said Lonnie Ali. “It’s so exciting to see this piece transformed into an NFT. My husband was such an extraordinary person, and like NFTs that live forever, he will too.”

The NFT was brought to life by Authentic Brands Group (ABG), a brand development, marketing, and entertainment company, who owns Muhammad Ali Enterprises in conjunction with Lonnie Ali as trustee of the Muhammad Ali Family Trust (MAFT).


One of the rarest and most iconic Nike’s, the Nike Moon Shoe is a running shoe designed by Nike co-founder and legendary University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman. The present pairs originate from a student of South Eugene High School in Eugene, Oregon (offered together, estimate $75/100,000). Of the pairs of Moon Shoes known to exist, most were made for runners at the 1972 Olympic Trials. While both pairs date to 1972, the pair without ‘Nike’ on the tongue are considered earlier, and were likely made as testers before the 1972 Olympic Trials. The pair with ‘Nike’ on the tongue is considered later. Nike famously debuted the iconic design at the Trials, which would ultimately launch one of America’s greatest brands. The pairs together illustrate – in a short amount of time – the evolution of Nike’s Waffle sole, and their capabilities in innovation.


The present shoes began as Lydiard shoes, and were custom modified by Bill Bowerman in the 1960s or 70s (estimate $60/70,000). The pair features a – perhaps coincidental – Swoosh-like cutout which extends from the Lydiard logo towards the front of the shoes. The pair shows no wear, and appear in the original state from when Bowerman modified them. He added a waffle sole to the pair, and Bowerman’s designs can be seen in red ink in areas he wished to cut out. By removing leather and exposing mesh, Bowerman was experimenting with removing weight from the shoes for better performance. The underside of the tongues says “GARNET SOLE”, which references Bowerman experimenting with ground up garnet as a material to make the waffle soles. Brown glue can be seen throughout the uppers, especially where layers of material are held together.


During the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games, Michael Johnson entered the games wearing a custom-made and never-before-seen pair of golden Nikes (estimate $30/50,000). Making a bold statement with his footwear, Johnson won two gold medals for the 400 and 200 meter sprints, and setting a new Olympic record for the 400 meter and a new world record for the 200 meter. He was the first man ever to win gold medals for both of these events at the same Olympics, and earned the nickname, “The Man With the Golden Shoes.”

Specially made only for Michael Johnson and his unique running style, the present pair featured an incredibly lightweight design. The shoes are asymmetrical – with mismatched soles – and the spike plates were designed with the curvature of the track in mind. Nike filmed Johnson with high-speed cameras to see how his feet would interact with the track. Noticing a speed of approximately 20 MPH around the curve, the company realized his feet acted differently from one another, and thus created spike plates to match his unique running style. Nike worked closely with Johnson to create these shoes, as Johnson wanted them to be as light and stable as possible, and in gold. Created for one-use only, the shoes are void of any unnecessary weight and are full of minimalistic design cues. The present pair are signed by Johnson.


The Olympic Nike Air Jordan 7 was worn by Michael Jordan during the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, when he led the ‘Dream Team’ to Gold. In 2004, Nike returned to the Air Jordan 7 in celebration of the Athens Summer Olympic Games. Four Team USA basketball players were given the exclusive retro versions: Carmelo Anthony, Michael Finley, Jason Kidd and Ray Allen (estimate $30/40,000). Never before released to the public, each of the four pairs on offer feature personalized embroidery on the sides of each heel: Carmelo Anthony’s pair features ‘Melo’, Michael Finley’s has ‘FIN’, Jason Kidd’s features his logo and jersey number ‘5’, and Ray Allen’s has his jersey number ‘12’ on the left heel and ‘Ray’ on the right.


One of the most sought-after modern cards of any type, the present card is arguably the most popular card from any era or sport (estimate $250/450,000). Featuring the highest grade acknowledged to exist by PSA, four razor-sharp edges culminate in pinpoint corners at each aspect. In immaculate Gem Mint condition, the present Michael Jordan card has become an iconic image in its class of collectibles.

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