Portland, OR.  Nike and OHSU Doernbecher are putting their annual benefit auction on hold while they vet some bidders. The 17th annual event called Virtually Freestyle was online. At one point, a shoe collector’s site reported the pair shown above was selling for more than $2 million. The auction was quickly stopped and Doernbecher released a statement that explained, “Out of an abundance of caution, the OHSU Foundation proactively halted the bidding process of Thursday’s Virtually Freestyle auction and is actively working to verify the authenticity of uncharacteristically high bids. We took these steps as added measures to existing security protocols.”

Due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, instead of a range of shoes designed by children, Nike and Doernbecher settled on the “What The” themed Air Jordan 1. The special shoe was created using elements of Doernbecher Freestyle designs of the past. Unlike past years, this shoe isn’t being prepped for a wide release—instead, a very limited run of 17 pairs was produced.

In honor of the 17th year of the program, only 17 pairs of the Air Jordan I “What The” Doernbecher were created. The first Air Jordan I “What The” Doernbecher, with a custom lasered box, was supposed to kick off the auction. Then the remaining 16 pair were suposed to be auctioned on Feb. 26th, but all the bidding has been put on hold.

Nike Product Director, Lee Banks with Freestyle XIV designer, Brody Miller in 2014. Since 2003, Nike and OHSU Doernbecher have collaborated with young designers for Doernbecher Freestlye event. Children battling serious illnesses design some of Nike and Jordan Brand’s most popular sneakers.

Typically, a group of children ages 8 to 15 are selected to work with Nike designers on a range of footwear that’s eventually released to the public. Doernbecher Freestyle raises money and awareness for the hospital. Over the years, the event has raised more than $29 million for the hospital, including $1,898,525 from the 2019 collection.

The children’s hospital is investigating what happened during a kickoff auction on February 25th when bidding on the first pair hit the $2 million dollar mark. For some perspective, last May Michael Jordan’s game-worn, autographed, Nike Air Jordan 1S from 1985 sold for $560,000 at a Sotheby’s auction. That was a world record price.

Doernbecher officials explained what they plan to do going forward with the following statement:

Doernbecher Freestyle adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic by partnering with a reputable online auction vendor to coordinate Virtually Freestyle, the program’s first event, and auction to take place solely online.

The OHSU Foundation is committed to following best practices and ensuring a fair auction. Event attendees interested in submitting bids for Virtually Freestyle auction items, including a special Air Jordan 1 “What The” Doernbecher, were required to agree to a robust Terms and Conditions contract. Bidders were also required to register using a valid credit card number, as a part of the authentication process completed by the online auction vendor.

To allow us the necessary time to reaffirm the validity and security of this and future online bidding processes, we have postponed the online auction of the sixteen remaining pairs of the Air Jordan 1 “What The” Doernbecher previously scheduled to begin Friday, Feb. 26. We will share additional information regarding the status and availability of Virtually Freestyle auction items at a later date.

Doernbecher Freestyle fans, including those that joined us from across the globe for Thursday’s event, know how much the program means to the patients, families, and staff at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. We are grateful to Nike, our community members, donors, and sponsors for their support of OHSU Doernbecher, and the young patient-designers behind every Doernbecher Freestyle collection.

Designers call the shoes an unforgettable tribute to former patient-designers, seen through the vault of Air Jordan: an Air Jordan I “What The” Doernbecher, featuring elements from each of the program’s 14 Air Jordan designs.

Below are photos of the specific details of the shoes: