For nearly four months, an auction for a non-fungible token (NFT) of Tadej Pogačar’s diamond-encrusted shoe sat without a single bid.
The destiny (opens in new tab)for sale on digital art marketplace ItalianNFT, was launched on 1 August with a reserve price of €5,000 (£4,300).
The sale not only includes the digital reproduction, it also entitles the winner to the actual, actual shoes worn by the UAE Team Emirates rider on the final stage of the 2022 Tour de France.
Most (85%) of the auction proceeds will go to the 24-year-old’s charity, the Tadej Pogačar Cancer Research Foundation, which supports research teams focusing on cancer metabolism and treatments.
So why doesn’t anyone want to buy the shoe?
NFT sales have fallen since the market’s initial surge in popularity in 2021. According to blockchain analytics company Dune, the trading volume of NFTs has fallen by 97%. (opens in new tab) since it peaked in January 2022.
The digital art market has also been criticized for its environmental impact. The sale of NFTs relies on cryptocurrency, which undergoes an energy-intensive mining process to confirm transactions.
However, Pogačar’s NFT shoe trades on the cryptocurrency Ethereum, which announced its move away from mining in September, completing a plan to reduce its carbon emissions by more than 99% (opens in new tab).
Designed by footwear brand DMT, the physical shoes are said to be “encrusted with natural black diamonds”.
“This is an authentic gem,” reads the auction lot, “with 138 brilliant cut stones with a total carat weight of 3.62 carats.”
The diamond-encrusted whippet slippers are not the only set of Pogačar’s shoes available online.
The Slovenian is also auctioning off the hand-painted shoes (opens in new tab) he wore during his victory at La Super Planche des Belles Filles this July.
The reserve price has already been reached, with bidding at $2,000 (£1,700) at the time of writing. The current bidder’s name is listed simply as ‘Tadej’.
In September, Pogačar partnered with home tech firm Plume to auction off a replica of his Tour de France-winning bike. The final price for the Colnago V3RS was recorded at €9,000 (£7,787), despite the auctioneer previously saying that bids had exceeded €550,000 (£474,000).