© 2024 Blaze Media LLC. All rights reserved.
Luxury watch dealer who bought Trump sneakers for $9,000 stomps 'Russian oligarch' narrative
X video, @romansharf - Screenshot

Luxury watch dealer who bought Trump sneakers for $9,000 stomps 'Russian oligarch' narrative

"So, bought a pair of sneakers ... and apparently, they made me a Russian oligarch overnight," said the collector.

Luxury watch dealer Roman Sharf shelled out $9,000 Saturday for a pair of "Never Surrender" high-top sneakers signed by former President Donald Trump at Philadelphia's Sneaker Con. After securing the pair of limited-edition and now sold-out shoes at auction, Sharf underwent significant media scrutiny.

Despite migrating to the United States as a teen and reportedly serving in the U.S. military, the American entrepreneur was cast by various publications and online personalities as a Russian CEO. The Daily Mail went farther, characterizing Sharf as a Trump-supporting "Russian oligarch."

Sharf punched back in a Monday video in which he corrected his origin story, defended his purchase, and underscored his patriotism.

Quick background

Shoe aficionados flocked to the Philadelphia Convention Center over the weekend for Sneaker Con, a traveling event for collectors to buy, sell, and trade sneakers. Trump made an appearance, debuting a line of golden shoes featuring a "T" embossed on the tongue and an American flag on the ankle.

According to the website that sold out of all 1,000 of the $399 limited-run shoes, "Trump Sneakers are not designed, manufactured, distributed or sold by Donald J. Trump, The Trump Organization or any of their respective affiliates or principals."

The Associated Press claimed that the shoe website was run by Trump's CIC Ventures LLC. However, the shoe company clearly states in its FAQ that CIC Ventures simply holds the trademarks for Trump's name and likeness and neither manages nor controls the company: "45Footwear uses Donald J. Trump's name, likeness and image under paid license from CIC Ventures LLC."

Extra to the "Never Surrender High Top Sneaker," the company advertised a pair of red laceless athletic shoes and a pair of white laceless shoes, reported NBC News.

"I've wanted to do this for a long time," Trump told an uproarious crowd. "I have some incredible people that work with me on things, and they came up with this ... and I think it's gonna be a big success."

Trump signed ten of the high-tops. Some collectors had an opportunity to get their hands on a pair Saturday.

Sharf, a self-described "sneaker head" and the CEO of the successful pre-owned luxury watch dealer Luxury Bazaar — founded in 2001 in Southampton, Pennsylvania — paid $9,000 at auction so that he could add the high-tops to his collection.

In a post to X, Sharf wrote, "Passing these down to my kids, but for now will display in the office."

Responding to Russian framing

Various publications and critics online leaned on the narrative that Sharf was a Russian businessman with an unhealthy affinity for Trump.

The Daily Mail ran an article entitled, "MAGA mania! Russian oligarch buys pair of autographed Trump sneakers for $9k at auction while others list limited edition kicks for $45,000 on eBay."

The New York Post recirculated an article by the Australian publication News.com.au, emphasizing in the body and title that Sharf was a "Russian CEO."

Various social media users with significant followings insinuated that the sneaker game presented an opportunity for Trump and Moscow to collude.

Olga Lautman, a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis and co-host of the KremlinFile podcast, wrote, "How shocking[.] A shady Russian watch dealer paid $9.000 fo [sic] Trump’s gaudy sneakers. I can't figure if this is going to be a new way to move money or just plain stupidity."

Sharf set the record straight Monday with a pithy video.

"So, bought a pair of sneakers ... and apparently, they made me a Russian oligarch overnight," says Sharf. "Guys, I'm a sneaker head. I'm also a U.S. Army veteran. And yes, I am a Republican."

Referencing the Daily Mail headline, Sharf noted, "I actually came from Ukraine."

"At the time it was part of the Soviet Union. I came here at the age of 13 as a refugee," continued the watch dealer. "My dad had four dollars in his pocket. I busted my ass working every dirty job under the sun to get where I am today in order to be able to afford to buy this $9,000 pair of collectible sneakers."

He also singled out Lautman's remarks, claiming not only that is he from Ukraine but that his organization has allegedly helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the beleaguered nation since its invasion by Russia.

Sharf acknowledged his apparent Ukrainian origin and immigrant story "would not get as many clicks as 'Russian oligarch.'"

After shaking off threats of a boycott on account of his purchase, Sharf stressed, "There's not a mean tweet in the world, there's not an IG post, there's not a news article that's gonna stop me from being who I am and that is a patriot of this country."

"You wanna hate me for wanting this country to be great again, go ahead and judge the sneaker head. But no matter what, I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all," added Sharf.

Like Blaze News? Bypass the censors, sign up for our newsletters, and get stories like this direct to your inbox. Sign up here!

Want to leave a tip?

We answer to you. Help keep our content free of advertisers and big tech censorship by leaving a tip today.
Want to join the conversation?
Already a subscriber?