Shoes worn by Arnold Palmer in his first Masters victory were sold for an astounding $66,000 on Saturday by Texas-based firm Heritage Auctions.
The FootJoy wingtip shoes from Palmer's controversial win at Augusta National in 1958, which were given to a pilot of Palmer's and signed by the golfing legend in 2004, had an original estimate of $15,000, and many in the industry thought even that price would be extremely generous.
"You could have gotten these shoes for $5,000 any time in the last 20 years," said Ryan Carey, co-owner of golf auction house Green Jacket Auctions. "But Palmer's death created a category of people scrambling to get pieces associated with him."
Carey is well aware of this. In December, his company sold one of Palmer's four Masters trophies for $444,012. The original estimate was $250,000.
Palmer died Sept. 25, 2016. He was 87.
"Ever since his passing, there has been huge interest in Arnold Palmer," said Heritage's Chris Ivy. "But this surpassed all our expectations."
The $66,000 price is the sixth-highest amount paid for a pair of event-worn shoes by an athlete in auction history behind two pairs of Muhammad Ali boots, two pairs of Michael Jordan shoes and a pair of cleats worn by Johnny Unitas from his final game with the Baltimore Colts.
Ivy would not disclose the identity of the bidder but said it was a new bidder to the auction house's registry.
An original 1974 painting of Palmer by artist LeRoy Neiman sold for $144,000 in the auction, $44,000 more than an aggressive $100,000 estimate.
The prices of the Palmer items in the auction have caused Carey to rethink his upcoming sale of the putter that Palmer used in the 1958 Masters.
"We thought it was a $50,000 item," Carey said. "Now it's probably $150,000."