The Controversial Auction of Diego Maradona’s Golden Ball Trophy

The auction of a trophy awarded to the late Diego Maradona that was planned for this week has been postponed, French auction house Aguttes said on Sunday, amid a judicial investigation looking into the possible resale of stolen goods. Maradona’s heirs this week failed to stop the auction of the Golden Ball trophy he received for being the best player at the 1986 World Cup by starting an urgent judicial motion. A French court ruled the auction could go ahead but the lawyer for Maradona’s heirs lodged an appeal.

“Maradona has always aroused passions, and this continues despite the recent court ruling on Thursday, which we welcome and which dismissed the heirs’ request for a ban on the sale,” Maximilien Aguttes said in a statement. “Our mission is to organise the auction in the best possible conditions, both for our seller and for the buyers. This litigious climate and these uncertainties do not allow connoisseurs to approach this acquisition calmly, and our role as a trusted third party can no longer be properly fulfilled.” A new date for the auction has yet to be set.

French judicial officials last month opened an investigation after they received a complaint related to the resale of allegedly stolen goods. The Nanterre prosecutor’s office said the court ruling did not have an impact on the probe, which is still ongoing. The Golden Ball was missing for decades after it disappeared in uncertain circumstances and only recently resurfaced. Maradona’s heirs said the trophy was stolen and claimed the owner wasn’t entitled to sell it.

Aguttes said the trophy reappeared in 2016 among other lots that were acquired from a private collection at auction in Paris. The owner and Aguttes claimed that when he bought the trophy years ago he was not aware it had been stolen. Maradona received the award in 1986 at a ceremony at the Lido cabaret on the Champs-Élysées. It subsequently disappeared, giving rise to rumors. Some say it was lost during a poker game or sold to pay off debts. Others say Maradona stored it in a safe in a Naples bank that was robbed by local gangsters in 1989 when he played in the Italian league. Maradona’s heirs believe it was stolen from the bank.

The Legacy of Maradona and the Value of the Trophy

Maradona, who died in 2020 at age 60, captained Argentina in its 3-2 win over West Germany in the 1986 final in Mexico City. In a quarterfinal win over England he scored the “Hand of God” goal and the “Goal of the Century.” Aguttes said it expects the trophy “to fetch millions due to its uniqueness.” The Hand of God goal came when Maradona punched the ball into England’s net. Four minutes later, he weaved through England’s midfield and defense and past goalkeeper Peter Shilton for what FIFA later declared the greatest goal in World Cup history.

The auction of Diego Maradona’s Golden Ball trophy is shrouded in controversy and legal battles. The postponement of the auction and the ongoing judicial investigation add to the uncertainties surrounding the ownership and sale of the trophy. Despite the historical disappearance and reappearance of the trophy, its value remains high due to its uniqueness and the legacy of Maradona himself. The legal and ethical issues surrounding the auction highlight the complexities of selling valuable sports memorabilia, especially when it comes to items of historical significance and contested ownership.


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