Updated: 10:01 AM PDT, April 02, 2021
The CEO of the art collective behind the controversial “Satan Shoes,” created in partnership with rapper Lil Nas X amid the release of his much-talked about music video “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” has spoken out in the wake of Nike’s lawsuit filed over the now-notorious sneakers.
After MSCHF customized Nike Air Max 97s to create what they deemed “Satan Shoes,” or “Blood Sneakers,” Nike sued over copyright infringement and asked the New York art collective to “permanently stop” fulfilling orders for the “unauthorized” Lil Nas X Satan Shoes, CNN reported. “Nike did not design or release these shoes and we do not endorse them,” the company said in a statement to Fox News.
On Thursday, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order that barred MSCHF from distributing the sneakers that were already sold, according to BBC. MSCHF also said they were stopping their giveaway of a pair of sneakers on Lil Nas X’s Twitter account.
“We are not affiliated with Nike, as we have consistently iterated to the press. We were honestly surprised by the action Nike has taken, and immediately after Nike’s counsel sent us notice we reached out but received no response,” MSCHF CEO Gabe Whaley told Inside Edition Digital in a statement.
In a statement to Inside Edition Digital, Whaley said that “over a year ago we released the Jesus Shoes,” which, like the “Satan Sneaker,” were made using customized Nike Air Max 97s. Nike took no action over those shoes, he said.
“As a manifested speculative artwork Jesus Shoes conflates celebrity collab culture and brand worship with religious worship into a limited edition line of art objects. Last week’s release of the Satan Shoes, in collaboration with Lil Nas X, was no different,” Whaley said in the statement. “Satan Shoes started a conversation, while also living natively in its space. It is art created for people to observe, speculate on, purchase, and own. Heresy only exists in relation to doctrine: who is Nike to censor one but not the other? Satan is as much part of the art historical canon as Jesus, from Renaissance Hellmouths to Milton. Satan exists as the challenger to the ultimate authority. We were delighted to work with Lil Nas X on Satan Shoes and continue this dialogue.”
The “Satan Shoes” sold out almost immediately after going on sale Monday. Only 666 pairs were made. They were black with red trim and feature gold pentagrams, inverted crosses, human blood in the sole and the Bible verse of Luke 10:18, which is about Satan’s fall from heaven. They also feature what looks like the iconic Nike logo.
Nike said in a lawsuit obtained by CBS News that the logo on the side of the sneakers are “likely to cause confusion and dilution and create an erroneous association between MSCHF’s products and Nike,” alleging that there’s “already evidence of significant confusion and dilution occurring in the marketplace, including calls to boycott Nike in response to the launch of MSCHF’s Satan Shoes based on the mistaken belief that Nike has authorized or approved this product.”
“As a direct and proximate result of MSCHF’s wrongful acts, Nike has suffered, continues to suffer, and/or is likely to suffer damage to its trademarks, business reputation, and goodwill that money cannot compensate,” Nike continued. “Unless enjoined, MSCHF will continue to use Nike’s Asserted Marks and/or confusingly similar marks and will cause irreparable damage to Nike for which Nike has no adequate remedy at law.”
Lil Nas X, who was not named in the suit, according to CNN, responded on Twitter to Nike’s claims with a SpongeBob SquarePants meme.
“MSCHF strongly believes in the freedom of expression, and nothing is more important than our ability, and the ability of other artists like us, to continue with our work over the coming years. We look forward to working with Nike and the court to resolve this case in the most expeditious manner,” Whaley said.