Skating is a sport created from the streets, a culmination of urban life with a childish, fun-loving, thrill-seeking determination honed through years of practice. It is less of a sport so to speak, and more of a lifestyle as a whole. Skateboards are thrashed, beaten, and broken every single day, in every single city across the globe – why then, are some skateboards selling to collectors for thousands of dollars? We took a trip through history to learn about the most heralded boards ever, to learn about why they command such frightening price tags.
DAMIEN HIRST X SUPREME
Damien Hirst’s prowess in the art sphere as a “hooligan genius” has brought him everything from praise and critique, to love and hate – it’s no surprise that the groundbreaking artist has a collaboration with Supreme, especially one commanding some of the biggest price tags of any Supreme pieces. He is undoubtedly Britain’s most regarded living artist, whether it be positive or negative, known for covering skulls in diamonds and fixating sharks, cows and sheep in transparent resin. His Supreme collaboration saw him release a quintet of skate decks decorated in fashion skin to his iconic “Spot Paintings”, a series of artwork completed from as early as 1986, all featuring colorful spots along the underside of the board while the top face was adorned with a variety of warning signs: Radioactivity, infectious disease, flammability, and so on. This collaboration also came with a matching box logo T-shirt, featuring the spots once again as well as a “Life’s a Bitch Then You DIE!” slogan on the reverse.
Also releasing in 2009 in collaboration with Supreme, Hirst went on to release a more colorful “Spin” series, with three decks featuring art akin to that of his iconic Spin paintings. This release is often unnoticed, with the aforementioned Spot pieces garnering all the attention. There currently is a set of 5 spot decks available on artsy.net for USD$10,000.
TAKASHI MURAKAMI X COMPLEXCON X SWAROVSKI
A longstanding partner of ComplexCon, Murakami has spent countless hours creating visuals, collaborations and merchandise for each and every event. For 2019’s ComplexCon set in California, Murakami set out to create an entire collection featuring his characteristic flower motif in Swarovski crystals. Alongside hoodies, T-shirts and more, the skate deck was the least obtainable and as such, the “have to have it” item of the convention. One of these boards is available on StockX, the highest bid currently is $2,314.
ANDY WARHOL CAMPBELL SOUP CAN DECKS
Andy Warhol’s iconic Soup Cans artwork, created in ‘62 to mimic Campbell’s soup offering, found its way onto nearly every article of clothing and accessory one can think of. This 8-pack of colorful, can-adorned decks is available at a four-figure price tag ($1364) and as above, comes as an art piece rather than merely a skate tool.
TONY HAWK’S “BOARDS+BANDS” AUCTION
Home to three of the most expensive skateboard deck purchases of all time, Tony Hawk set out in 2012 to break the mold and sell off a variety of used – by pro skaters, of course – and signed – by some of the biggest names in the music industry, of course – boards in order to raise funds for the Tony Hawk Foundation. The foundation aims to build free, public skateparks across the globe, particularly so in low income areas to spread the love of skating, and help kids just have fun.
Headlining the event was Tony Hawk’s very own board, which was adorned with handwritten lyrics from Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird”, and fetched $27,116. However, this was ousted by the Jamie Thomas-used and Bob Dylan signed board that sold for $38,425. Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” was handwritten by the man himself on the board, hence the high price. Other notable artists involved were Metallica’s James Hetfield, Rodney Mullen and Jimmy Cliff.
FUTURA’S “FOR LOVE OR MONEY” DECK
Brooklyn artist Futura’s work has seen the graffiti scene of New York explode, and his influence has been present from the 70’s and remains a force to this day. His “FLOM” (meaning “For love or Money”) pattern was created using different denominations of printed money, be it dollars, pounds, yen, and so on. The pattern appears on a mythical skate deck that little to no information exists on – if one emerges today, we could see it become the most expensive deck of all time in a heartbeat. Take a look at the Nike Dunk High “FLOM” for example – 24 pairs were made for friends and family of the Futura estate, and the pairs have traded for upwards of $60,000.