Nike Settles Suit over Lil Nas X's 'Satan Shoes'

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday April 9, 2021

Nike has settled its suit against art collective MSCHF for unauthorized modification of Nike sneakers into "Satan Shoes" released in conjunction with latest single by out rapper Lil Nas X, People Magazine reports.

"The settlement occurred on Thursday, just a week after Nike filed a trademark lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against MSCHF," People reported.

MSCHF's modifications to 666 pairs of Air Max 97s shoes included a pentagram and a drop of human blood injected into the shoes' soles. Those modifications were done "without Nike's authorization," the shoe company emphasized.

The shoes were released March 29 in conjunction with Lil Nas X's single "MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)," and were a followup to the art collective's 2019 release of "Jesus Shoes," which, People recalled, were "Air Max 97s injected with water from the Jordan River. The shoes also had a crucifix attached to the laces and frankincense-scented insoles."

The settlement called for MSCHF to buy back any pairs or either Jesus Shoes or Satan Shoes for the full purchase price. The Satan Shoes had sold for $1,018 per pair, the price being a reference to Luke 10:18, which talks about "Satan's fall from heaven," People recalled.

Lil Nas X was not named in the suit, as EDGE reported earlier.

MSCHF argued that the shoes were not footwear so much as "individually-numbered works of art that were sold to collectors," but Nike's attorneys pointed to "evidence that some consumers are saying they will never buy Nike shoes ever again," with those consumers evidently believing Nike had authorized the shoes.

The company's lawyers also argued that the "swoosh" symbol on the shoes, which was left in place on the modified sneakers, is "one of the most famous marks of all time."

"The shoes, as well as the music video which features the musician taking a stripper pole to Hell, drew strong backlash online," People noted.

That wasn't all the mischievous video did. In it, Lil Nas X gave a lap dance to an actor who portrayed the devil. The out rapper has explained the song's imagery by saying that the song is a response to religious shame imposed on him when he was younger for being gay.

MSCHF addressed the controversy around the shoes in a statement in which it said that the idea was to "conflate celebrity collab culture and brand worship with religious worship into a limited edition line of art objects."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.