For almost four months, an auction for a non-fungible token (NFT) of Tadej Pogačar’s diamond-encrusted shoe has sat without a single bid.
The lot (opens in new tab), for sale on digital art marketplace ItaliaNFT, was launched on 1 August with a reserve price of €5,000 (£4,300).
Not only does the sale include the digital reproduction, it also entitles the winner to the actual, real-life 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 focused on cancer metabolism and treatments.
So why does nobody want to buy the shoe?
NFT sales have slumped since the market’s initial spike in popularity in 2021. According to blockchain analytics company Dune, the trading volume of NFTs has fallen by 97% (opens in new tab) since reaching an all-time high in January 2022.
The digital art market has also been criticised for its environmental impact. The sale of NFTs relies on cryptocurrency, which undergoes an energy-intensive mining process to confirm transactions.
Pogačar’s NFT shoe, however, is trading 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 “covered with natural black diamonds”.
“This is an authentic jewel,” the auction lot reads, “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 footwear available online.
The reserve price has already been met, with the 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 technology firm Plume to auction a replica of his Tour de France-winning bike. The final price for the Colnago V3RS was logged at €9,000 (£7,787), despite the auction previously stating that bidding had exceeded €550,000 (£474,000).