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