El Rey were created to
honor Tony Lama's
50th anniversary, and the latest versions carry on that
tradition. The boots took months to make and were valued at $5,000 - more than the average annual income of the day. They were stolen from a retail outfit in Miami while on tour in 1953 - and never recovered.
El Rey II replaced the
originals in the mid-1960s. Fifty-four carats of diamonds, rubies and sapphires placed the value of the new El Reys at $10,000 – nearly twice
the cost of a Corvette. In 1970, they, too were stolen: burglars broke in through the roof of the Lariat Clothiers where the boots were on display, cut out the jewels and escaped. They were never apprehended.
El Rey III appeared on the scene in 1981. Two jewelers spent 70 hours setting 318 stones. The New York Times labeled them the "Mona Lisa of custom boots." Naturally, when the $32,000 El Rey IIIs went on tour, they were
accompanied by a security guard. So far, they've remained safely in Tony Lama hands.