At Phillips Auction House, million-dollar art pieces have been replaced by a much more approachable product: sneakers.

When I visited Phillips Auction House in August, it didn’t look terribly unlike sneaker emporium Kith, some three miles downtown. People have dropped tens of millions of dollar inside Phillips, on Jean Michel Basquiat paintings or Paul Newman’s watch. But last month, on top of pedestals made out of cardboard boxes, were 20 different sneakers. There were Nike Air Force 1s, Converse Chuck Taylors, Air Max 95s, and Air Jordan IVs scattered around the gleaming insides of the auction house. There were Pumas painted on by artist Kehinde Wiley, who created the official White House portrait of Barack Obama, and doodled-on Chucks by British artist Shantell Martin. This was all because Phillips was set up not for a full auction but an exhibit with one lot for sale. In the back, a pair of Air Force 1 lookalikes created by the Shoe Surgeon sat in a glass case—they were the only shoes that went up for auction, with a starting price of $5,000. Read more