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The BBC has just reported on an auction of dozens of trainers seized after the arrest of a gangster. In all, the miscreant had 55 pairs of these shoes in varying colours and styles, some rather more eye-popping than others, and together they attracted bids from places as far flung as Australia, Trinidad, Romani and the United States to the Gloucester auction.

Designed by such luminaries as Jimmy Choo, Gucci and Christian Louboutin, the trainers brought in £5000, which will go towards fighting crime.

A tidy sum it may be, but nothing compared to the sort of money that trainers and sneakers can make on the secondary US market these days. Three years ago, Nike released a limited edition of one of its Air Max, which led to a review of the size of the international market in sneakers and trainers, then estimated by Forbes magazine at around $55 billion.

With so many designs, makers and celebrity endorsements to choose from, this follows all the norms of a traditional collecting market.

By the time Nike released its limited edition range, inspired by those worn by the character Marty McFly in the film Back to the Future II, the secondary market in the US alone for trainers was being valued by The Economist at $1.5 billion a year. And the McFly trainers sold for an average $32,275 a pair.