‘Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven’: MSCHF responds to Nike lawsuit

Credit: MSCHF
Credit: MSCHF

The art collective breaks its silence over ‘Satan Shoes’ controversy.

MSCHF is up for Nike’s challenge, according to a statement the art collective shared with Campaign US on ironically, Holy Thursday. 

MSCHF came under fire earlier this week after it dropped its ‘Satan Shoes,’ a custom design of Nike Air Max 97’s with a pentagram symbol and a drop of human blood in the midsole. 

The shoe was created in collaboration with hip-hop artist Lil Nas X, coinciding with the release of his music video for “Montero (Call Me by Your Name),” in which Lil Nas X rides a stripper pole to hell and dances on the devil. 

The new design comes after MSCHF released its ‘Jesus Shoes,' last year, a pair of Nike’s with holy water in the sole. 

MSCHF has stayed silent since Nike filed a lawsuit against the collective for trademark infringement on Monday. The sneaker brand has also won a temporary restraining order against MSCHF, blocking all sales and giveaways of the sneaker. 

In the statement MSCHF challenged Nike’s action, saying “Heresy only exists in relation to doctrine: who is Nike to censor one but not the other?” 

Read the full statement below: 

The following is an official statement regarding the court case between MSCHF and Nike. MSCHF is a conceptual art collective known for interventions that engage fashion, art, tech, and capitalism in various, often unexpected, mediums. 

We believe it is better to make art that participates directly in its subject matter; it is stronger to do a thing, than to talk about a thing. MSCHF makes artworks that live directly in the systems they critique, instead of hiding inside whitewalled galleries. There is no better way to start a conversation about consumer culture than by participating in consumer culture. We choose a specific medium to engage with a specific subject matter: we will make shoes, stream video, publish books, make paintings and sculpture, build apps or web services– everything is in service to the concept. MSCHF is fully context chameleonic. 

Over a year ago we released the Jesus Shoes. 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. 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. 

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 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. 

Given the current circumstances, this action by Nike will also prohibit Lil Nas X’s Twitter giveaway for Satan Shoes Edition 666 from happening indefinitely. We appreciate everyone’s patience and continued support during this process. 

Better To Reign In Hell Than Serve In Heaven.



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