French auction house postpones sale of Maradona trophy amid legal investigation


This week, the footballer's heirs failed to prevent the auction of the Golden Ball, which he received as the best player at the 1986 World Cup, despite filing an urgent application.

A French court ruled that the auction could take place, but the lawyer for Maradona's heirs appealed.

“Maradona has always aroused passions and this continues to be the case, despite the recent court ruling on Thursday, which we welcome and which rejected the heirs' request for a ban on sales,” Maximilien Aguttes said in a statement.

“Our job is to organize the auction under the best possible conditions, both for our seller and for the buyers. This contentious climate and these uncertainties do not allow connoisseurs to approach this acquisition with composure, and we can no longer properly fulfill our role as a trusted third party.”

A new date for the auction has not yet been set.

France: Maradona trophy auction for football
Gilles Moreu (left) and Lola Chunet, lawyers for Maradona's heirs (Michel Euler/AP)

French judicial officials launched an investigation last month after receiving a complaint about the resale of allegedly stolen goods. Nanterre prosecutors said the court ruling had no impact on the investigation, which is still ongoing.

The Golden Ball was thought to be lost for decades after it disappeared under mysterious circumstances and only recently resurfaced.

Maradona's heirs say the trophy was stolen and claim the current owner is not entitled to sell it.

Aguttes said the trophy resurfaced in 2016 along with other lots acquired from a private collection at an auction in Paris.

The current owner and Aguttes claimed that he had no knowledge that the trophy had been stolen when he bought it years ago.

Maradona received the award in 1986 at a ceremony at the Lido cabaret on the Champs-Elysées. It later disappeared, giving rise to numerous rumors.

Some say it was lost in a poker game or sold to pay off debts. Others say Maradona kept it in a safe in a bank in Naples, which was robbed by local gangsters in 1989, when he was playing in the Italian league. Maradona's heirs believe it was stolen from the bank.

The French court's ruling found that “no criminal complaint had been filed during the footballer's lifetime” in connection with a possible theft of the trophy. In addition, Maradona's heirs had not provided any evidence that a police investigation had taken place at the time the trophy disappeared.

Maradona, who died in 2020 at the age of 60, captained the Argentine national team in their 3-2 victory over West Germany in the 1986 final in Mexico City. He scored the “Hand of God” goal and the “Goal of the Century” in the quarter-final victory against England.

Aguttes expects the trophy to “bring in millions due to its uniqueness.”

The “Hand of God” goal came when Maradona smashed the ball into the English net. Four minutes later, he weaved through England's midfield and defence, leaving goalkeeper Peter Shilton in his wake. FIFA later declared the goal the most beautiful in World Cup history.