The jersey pictured in the most iconic photograph ever taken of NBA legend Kobe Bryant is up for auction – and is expected to fetch as much as $7 million (approximately £5.7 million).
One of the most seminal shots in sporting history, the classic photograph – taken by Los Angeles Times photographer Wally Skalij on a Nikon D3, using the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 VR G lens – has become the most recognizable and reproduced representation of the legendary Los Angeles laker and his "Mamba Mentality".
• Want to capture iconic sports shots? These are the best cameras for sports photography
It has been featured on endless amounts of official (and unofficial) NBA merchandise, and immortalized on posters and murals across the world – a fitting tribute to Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a tragic helicopter crash in January 2020, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and 7 other people on board.
The photograph depicts a jubilant Bryant during his sole MVP season, triumphantly grabbing his uniform to celebrate a big-time basket against the Denver Nuggets at the Staples Center, during the 2008 NBA Playoffs.
The Los Angeles home jersey featured in that image, in signature gold and purple with Bryant's number 24, is being auctioned by Sotheby's – and within an hour had already received a bid of $4.5 million (£3.7 million), eclipsing the previous highest price paid for a Bryant jersey ($3.7 million (£3 million) paid for a 1996-97 jersey in 2001).
"It’s actually crazy pervasive, this image," Brahm Wachter, Sotheby's vice president and head of streetwear and modern collectibles, told CNN (via Wish TV).
"He had so much passion and if you really look around this exhibit, you’ll see this image that’s associated with him – grabbing his shirt, in kind of elation, and it’s become so iconic."
The jersey will come with a collection of photographs, artwork, books and other material, and is on public display at Sotheby's New York during the first week of February. Bidding closes on February 09, and seems certain to set a historic record for Bryant merchandise.