There were eight hats made. Each one bore the number 24. For Kobe.
They were made to honor Kobe Bryant upon his retirement in 2016. During his legendary tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers, those were the numbers he wore: 8; then, when it finally came available, 24, which had been his first number in high school.
"Twenty-four is every day," Bryant once said of the number he reclaimed in 2006. "Because when you get older, your muscles start getting sore. Body starts aching. You show up to practice that day, you have to remind yourself, 'OK, this day is the most important day.'"
The hats, made by New Era for its "24 Collection" and sold through AEG Merchandise, were made of black leather with a black-and-gold snakeskin visor meant to honor the Black Mamba, the nickname Kobe gave himself his alter ago. Each 24 was made with 3.5 ounces of 18-karat gold. The Lakers logo was embossed inside each 24.
Inside each cap was a purple satin liner stamped with gold foil featuring Bryant's jersey numbers and the Lakers' logo. The gold lettering also recapped Kobe's career highlights, from the pros to the Olympics.
The hat, contained in specially designed box with a gold-outlined 24 exterior, debuted on the Lakers' website on April 7, 2016. At 8:24 in the morning. Of course.
Each hat cost $38,248.08. And within hours, they vanished. Sold out. For Kobe.
More than five years later, one resurfaces at Heritage Auctions
, as a centerpiece of the Nov. 9 Urban Art Signature® Auction. Alongside White Noise, a painting made by Los Angeles' celebrated graffiti artist RETNA the year the hat was released. Alongside works by Mr. Brainwash, KAWS, The Connor Brothers and other artists whose works famous jumped from the street to the gallery.
Because it's more than a hat. Much more.
"This iconic hat is a perfect fit for our Signature auction, as it's a truly remarkable collectible," says Walter Ramirez, Heritage Auctions' New York-based Associate Specialist in Urban Art. "The care and craftsmanship that went into the piece elevated it from souvenir to artwork."
The hat will be on display Nov. 6-7 at ComplexCon in Long Beach.
"These limited-edition hats are the first and only hats of their kind, and are sure to be the most talked-about sports collectible in history," the Lakers said in the spring of 2016. "What better way to commemorate a Lakers legend with this once-in-a-lifetime collectible? Get yours today!"
Which sounded impossible in April 2016. But not today. Because one will be available on Nov. 9. After that, who knows? Perhaps never again.