These Montreal Brothers Turned a $98K eBay Battle Into a Sneaker NFT | Complex CA
When brothers Kevin and Thierry Mofo scored a pair of Nike Air Foamposite One Galaxies back in the winter of 2012, they had good reason to believe they’d hit the mother lode. As hype sneakers go, the Galaxies are a bona fide grail: hard to find, enormously coveted, and commanding insane prices on the resale market. So when they listed them on eBay shortly after buying them, it was hardly surprising that the final bid came in at little under $100,000. That’s just how hot these shoes are.
Except the sale never actually went through. eBay, sensing fraudulence or some kind of error, pulled the Mofos’ listing without so much as a warning, robbing them of the sale and booting them from the platform. After all that excitement, they stood to wind up with nothing.
A decade later, Kevin and Thierry have founded Soles of Justice, and under its name they are planning to finally make good on the promise of that original sale. Together they are launching their very first NFT sneaker, minted on the Ethereum blockchain, which they plan on auctioning off. The winner of the auction will also receive the real Foamposite Galaxies with the purchase—making this an NFT sale unlike any other. The whole plan, the brothers explain, is to raise awareness around user agreement policies on platforms like eBay, so that consumers like them can avoid getting burned as they did in the future.
Complex Canada caught up with Thierry and Kevin at their home in Montreal to discuss the story of the grails, their legal battle with eBay, and their NFT sale.
How did you first land a pair of these sneakers?
Thierry: How it happened was kind of crazy. We had a friend who worked at a sneaker store called Exclucity. He would give us the insights—this shoe is dropping, it’s going to be limited stock, or whatnot. A couple weeks prior to the release of the Foamposite, we heard this store was going to be receiving them in limited quantities. I camped outside. Thirty hours in February. And I was lucky enough to get a pair.
Were you worried you might not get them after waiting that long?
Thierry: It was clear I was going to get one from the moment I got there. I was maybe number seven in line. You weren’t guaranteed your size, but we started talking amongst each other in line: “What size you go for? You take ten, I’ll take 9 and a half,” you know?
Did you always plan on reselling?
Thierry: I wasn’t doing much reselling. It was more that we knew the shoes were valuable, and we knew it was limited quantities, and we were lucky enough to have some confirmation from the inside to take advantage of it. The main reason we got them is that we were trying to help out our family. We can flip them and help with some bills.
“It went to $65,000, then $75,000, it was ridiculous. It was going phenomenally well. Then a few hours before the auction ends, we get a notification, boom, your auction has been removed. We were like, ‘What’s going on? We followed all the rules.’ But we contacted eBay, and nothing. Our account gets blocked. No way to move forward.”
Tell me what happened with eBay.
Kevin: He barely told us anything about the shoes. He woke me up and said, “I got these sneakers, they’re valuable, we need a way to sell them.” I had a eBay account so I put them on there. It was the perfect place for us to sell them and make money. We made it a three-day auction, right at All-Star Weekend. I go to sleep, and then he wakes me up and is like, “Yo, the shoes are at $25,000.” He usually says ridiculous things to wake me up so I don’t take it seriously. But then when I get up I see: Oh, my god, this is a gift from God, this hard work has finally paid off. It went to $65,000, then $75,000, it was ridiculous. It was going phenomenally well. Then a few hours before the auction ends, we get a notification, boom, your auction has been removed. We were like, ‘What’s going on? We followed all the rules.’ But we contacted eBay, and nothing. Our account gets blocked. No way to move forward.
Did you try to resell it again?
Kevin: Yes, we got a new account, but by then the hype had died down, and it was past All-Star Weekend. It just wasn’t the same. We were very disappointed. It was at that point that my brother said, “Yo, this is not fair.” We did everything and it didn’t work out. We felt cheated and wronged. That’s when we decided, let’s fight this. This can’t be a one-time thing. We need to change this.
What happened from there? You filed suit?
Kevin: Pretty much we were arguing that we did everything right to put it up, and they were arguing we breached their policies. Our lawyer proved at every step that we didn’t actually break their policies. We learned a little bit about law. They were trying to make us appear that we were a store, so that we wouldn’t be protected. It was not a feasible argument. So every element that was brought up, we won.
What ended up happening?
Kevin: We would have had to fly to California for the legal proceedings, because that’s where eBay’s head office was. And we would have had to fly our lawyers, and stay there.
But you still had the shoes.
Kevin: We have them now. But they had been evidence, the main piece of evidence, so we had them locked up. We decided to revisit it. It’s pretty much the 10th anniversary of this happening. The All-Star Game was happening again.
It happened organically. I wish I could say it was planned. But we were like, “What happened with our shoes, man?” On top of the injustices, and abuses in terms of online rights overall, it just happened organically.
“If we had had this technology 10 years ago, we wouldn’t have used eBay, and we wouldn’t have had to go through this. We are transitioning toward a Web 3 Internet. It’s more decentralized.”
What did you decide to do?
We realized that we no longer have to be dependent on platforms like eBay. We have other tools now. What we’re trying to do is start with an NFT of the sneaker. You’re going to get the NFT and the sneaker and a copy of our court case. We’re trying to kind of kickstart the other projects we have in the pipeline—the main goal for us is to tie in the online world with the real world, you know? We want to show that they go hand in hand.
Kevin: If we had had this technology 10 years ago, we wouldn’t have used eBay, and we wouldn’t have had to go through this. We are transitioning toward a Web 3 Internet. It’s more decentralized. We’re building tools that allow individuals to operate the way that previously only corporations operated. People need to understand that. We want our story to be an example to people to know they don’t have to go through that themselves.
Is the NFT itself valuable? Or is that more just about the shoe?
Kevin: The NFT is very valuable. It’s also a representation of what we’re trying to achieve. We find it important to find a way to own our story, to own our data. We want people to understand this power.
Thierry: Absolutely. There’s an underlying technology behind NFTs that is extremely powerful. The nonfungible token technology is very profound.
This content was originally published here.