$2 million T-shirt collection goes on sale at Christie’s to promote Supreme auction

The most complete collection of Supreme T-shirts is being offered for sale at Christie's for about $2 million, highlighting the soaring value of the luxury streetwear brand and the growing importance of a new generation in the collectibles world.

The T-shirt collection is the only complete set of Supreme's "box-logo" T-shirts, which were released since 1994, known to exist. The collection features 253 shirts, which works out to an average of more than $7,900 per T-shirt.

The collection is being offered as a private sale, meaning a buyer would purchase it directly from Christie's rather than through auction. The exact asking price is not public, but Christie's said the collection is valued at over $2 million.

It's being featured to promote Christie's first-ever auction dedicated to Supreme, which started as a single skateboard shop in downtown Manhattan and became a global streetwear sensation. Supreme was recently acquired by VF Corp. for $2.1 billion.

The T-shirt collection is being sold by James Bogart, a 21-year-old Canadian fashion student who started buying Supreme gear when he was 14. Growing up in Vancouver, Bogart said he didn't live near any Supreme stores but had skater friends who introduced him to the brand, leading him to buy a Supreme jacket inspired by American journalist Hunter S. Thompson.

After learning more about the brand, Bogart started buying T-shirts and made it his goal to create the first "complete archive" of every one of Supreme's 241 designs as well as 12 T-shirts that were either samples or "friends and family" designs. Supreme is famous for its limited-edition "drops," where customers line up for blocks to get their hands on a small number of new releases.

The early shirts were the hardest to find, he said, since Supreme sometimes released only 50 to 150 shirts. He found one shirt in the collection accidentally, while visiting another collector in London who showed him a Christmas-colored T-shirt he didn't even know existed. Another design, featuring Arabic lettering, is also extremely rare.

"My passion sort of transformed," Bogart said. "Eventually, I figured, hey, I can go for something no one else has ever completed."

Bogart admits that $2 million is a "ridiculous" sum for a set of T-shirts. But he said Supreme is more like fine art than clothing, with scarcity, cultural relevance and values that speak to a new generation of collector.

A collection of Supreme skateboard decks was auctioned by Sotheby's last year for $800,000, and Artcurial held a Supreme auction in 2018 that raked in more than $1 million.

"Supreme has been a mainstay," Bogart said. "They've been at the forefront of defining culture really. The easiest way to sort of define the value of this collection is the fact that it is the pumping heart of the brand, it is something that will always be a very significant cultural symbol."

Bogart won't say exactly how much he spent to assemble the collection. He said each T-shirt went through a thorough multistage verification process, with help from a former Supreme staffer. He uploaded detailed images of the shirts into a digital archive for further public verification.

Currently studying business and fashion in Italy, Bogart said that as much as he would enjoy the windfall, he will be sorry to part with the collection.

"I think it'll be a little bit bittersweet," he said. "For me, it was always about the hunt. And the fact that so many people deem to this collection impossible to be completed. So once it was completed, there was a sense of great relief and great pride, but I really did want to put it on a stage where it could be appreciated and do the collection justice."

As for whether any new buyer will actually wear the meticulously maintained shirts, Bogart said: "I hope that they don't wear them. I've spent so long trying to get these shirts in their best possible condition. I think it would be a little bit painful to watch. But again, whoever does buy it, I would totally encourage them to do whatever makes them happy."

Christie's dedicated Supreme auction, called "Behind the Box: 1994-2020," opened for bidding Tuesday and will run until Dec. 15.

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