Maradona’s heirs to file case against auction of ‘stolen’ 1986 Golden Ball
Diego Maradona with the 1986 FIFA World Cup trophy in Mexico City. He received the Golden Ball award at a ceremony at the Lido cabaret on the Champs-Élysées later in 1986 | Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Maradona’s heirs to file case against auction of ‘stolen’ 1986 Golden Ball

Maradona’s Golden Ball trophy had been missing for years after vanishing mysteriously; it reappeared in 2016, among other lots acquired from a private collection

The auction of the Golden Ball trophy awarded to Argentine football legend Diego Maradona after his team’s 1986 World Cup win has been opposed by his heirs, who say it was stolen. They have decided to file a lawsuit to try to stop the auction in Paris next month, their lawyer told news agency The Associated Press on Tuesday (May 14).

Maradona’s Golden Ball trophy, which is meant for the best player of the tournament, had been missing for decades after vanishing mysteriously. The trophy reappeared in 2016, among other lots that were acquired from a private collection, the Aguttes auction house said last week. And now, it is set to be auctioned in Paris in June.

Maradona’s heirs say the trophy was stolen and argue that the current owner cannot be entitled to sell it.

Mysterious disappearance of the trophy

Maradona captained Argentina in its 3-2 win over West Germany in the 1986 World Cup final in Mexico City. The (in)famous “Hand of God” goal and the “Goal of the Century” came in that same tournament, against England in the quarterfinals, which Argentina won 2-1.

The Argentine great received the award at a ceremony at the Lido cabaret on the Champs-Élysées in 1986. It subsequently disappeared, giving rise to all kinds of rumours. Some say it was lost during a poker game or sold to pay off debts, Aguttes said. 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.

The heirs of Maradona, who died in 2020 aged 60, believe it was stolen from the bank.

What family wants

Gilles Moreu, a lawyer working with Paradox Lawyers firm who represents two daughters of Maradona, say the heirs found out only recently that the trophy had been stolen. According to the lawyer, Maradona’s family wants the sale to be banned because it believes the Golden Ball belongs to them. The two daughters discussed the matter with the other heirs, who gave their approval to the legal action, the lawyer said.

Moreu said he will throw an urgent request to the president of the Nanterre judicial court near Paris to have the Golden Ball withdrawn from the auction. He told the AP he will also request a judicial sequestration of the trophy and file a complaint for theft and concealed theft.

Arguments of both sides

“If the owner of an object can claim ownership under French law, it is on the obvious condition that his or her good faith cannot be called into question,” the Paradox Lawyers firm said in a statement to the AP. “This cannot be the case for the owner of a trophy that was famously stolen from Diego Maradona and whose heirs can legally claim ownership.”

Moreu said, “It doesn’t appear that the seller contacted Diego, which wasn’t that complicated.”

The auction house’s argument is the person who bought the trophy years ago was not aware it had been stolen. The auction house said it expects the trophy “to fetch millions due to its uniqueness.” Bidders will be asked to make a deposit of 150,000 euros (Rs 1,35,58,442) to participate in the June 6 auction.

(With agency inputs)

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