Most Vintage Jeans Sell for About $100. These 19th-Century Levi's Found in a Mine Shaft Just Sold for Much, Much More. The jeans, which were found five years ago in the American West by a "denim archeologist," are shockingly intact.
That was the case for 23-year-old Kyle Haupert and Zip Stevenson, long-time players in the vintage market, who recently purchased a pair of 19th-century Levi's jeans found in an abandoned mine shaft by a "denim archeologist," The Wall Street Journal reported. The price? $87,400.
It's one of the highest prices ever paid for a pair of jeans — and included a 15% buyer's premium. Haupert paid 90%; Stevenson, who has run the Los Angeles shop Denim Doctors since 1994, supplied the remaining 10%.
The jeans were discovered about five years ago in the American West by Michael Harris, who searched "at least 50 abandoned mines" without finding a comparable pair, Stevenson told CNN.
Vintage denim expert Brit Eaton purchased the jeans from Harris for $23,000 five years ago, per WSJ.
Inside the pair, "The only kind made by white labor" is printed — a slogan used following 1882's Chinese Exclusion Act, according to a Levi's spokesperson. Levi's ended that policy and got rid of the slogan in the 1890s, which confirms the jeans' 19th-century status.
"I've been doing this business for a quarter of a century and the average vintage jeans are worth about $100," Eaton told CNN. "So to find a pair this valuable is once in a lifetime."
Also once in a lifetime? The fact that these jeans are intact enough to be worn "to Starbucks" — most others in existence are far too delicate.
Despite their apparent durability, Haupert and Stevenson hope the pants will be purchased by a museum for display.