Sunday, October 24 2021

Kobe Bryant memorabilia never dipped in popularity after the superstar’s retirement, and following his death in a 2020 helicopter accident, demand has risen even further. Shoes and jerseys continue to sell at enormous volumes, but starting on Tuesday, Aug. 24, a far rarer piece of Bryant’s career went up for sale. 

Cryptograph, a digital collectibles company, has released eight NFTs featuring photographs of Bryant that have never been seen, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. The pictures themselves were taken in 1999 by photographer Davis Factor (who is a Los Angeles Lakers season-ticket holder) at an abandoned warehouse in downtown Los Angeles. The pictures are in black and white and feature Bryant in a number of different outfits. The eight are titled individually as “Easy,” “I See You,” “Jump,” “Leather,” “Sexy,” “Style,” “The Kiss,” and “Time.” The pictures can be seen here.

“This shoot is special because you don’t see him in a jersey,” says Tommy Alastra, co-founder of Cryptograph. “He’s Kobe Bean Bryant. You can see the father, the son, the husband come out. It’s just him, raw, in everyday Kobe. It’s special. … They’re really quite beautiful.”

All proceeds from sales from the “KOBE” Collection will go to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation. The auction is not an official partnership with the Bryant trust, but proceeds from secondary sales will also go to his foundation.

The decision to begin the auction on Aug. 24 was no accident. During his career with the Lakers, Bryant wore No. 8 from his rookie 1996-97 season through the 2005-06 season. Afterward, he switched to No. 24 for the remainder of his career. August is the eighth month of the year, so Los Angeles and Orange County have turned the 24th into Kobe Bryant day. Both No. 8 and No. 24 are retired at Staples Center in Bryant’s honor. The NFT’s were put up for auction at 10 a.m. PT on Tuesday and will remain up for 72 hours. 



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