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Levi's wins auction for century-old jeans

Levi Strauss pays over $46,000 for a pair of its jeans made in the 1880s that was being sold on eBay.

A pair of Levi Strauss jeans that dates back to the days of the Wild West fetched a handsome auction price on eBay.

San Francisco-based Levi Strauss paid $46,532 for a pair of jeans the company manufactured back in the 1880s. The pair of Levi's, found in a Nevada mining town in 1998, is said to be the oldest in existence.

"This is an important piece of our company's history," Bob Haas, Levi Strauss chairman, said in a statement. "It's great that they will now be preserved in our archives."

Levi Strauss invented the first pair of denim jeans in 1873, and since then they have become a mainstay in American fashion. Everyone from James Dean to Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy has pulled on a pair of Levi's.

The auction, which was put on by The History Channel, Butterfields and eBay, began May 17. The jeans were appraised at between $25,000 and $35,000. A "last-minute bidding war" drove up the price, which is believed to be the highest price ever paid for a pair of denim jeans, eBay said.