French auction house postpones sale of Maradona trophy amid ownership controversy, judicial inquiry | The National Sport

The auction of a trophy awarded to the late Diego Maradona that was planned this week has been postponed, French auction house Aguttes said on Sunday, amid a judicial investigation into the possible resale of the stolen goods.

Maradona’s heirs failed this week to stop the auction of the Ballon d’Or trophy he received for being the best player at the 1986 World Cup, launching an urgent court motion. A French court ruled the auction could go ahead, but the lawyer for Maradona’s heirs filed an appeal.

“Maradona has always stirred passions, and this continues despite Thursday’s recent court ruling, which we welcome, rejecting the heirs’ request to ban the sale,” Maximilien Aguttes said in a statement. “Our mission is to organize the auction under 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 not yet been set.

French judicial officials opened an investigation last month after receiving a complaint related to the resale of allegedly stolen goods. The Nanterre prosecutor’s office said the court ruling had no impact on the investigation, which is still ongoing.

The Ballon d’Or has been missing for decades after disappearing under uncertain circumstances and only recently reappeared. Maradona’s heirs say the trophy was stolen and claimed the current owner had no right to sell it. Aguttes said the trophy resurfaced in 2016, among other lots that were purchased from a private collection at auction in Paris.

The current owner and Aguttes claimed that when he bought the trophy years ago, he did not know it had been stolen.

Maradona received the award in 1986 at a ceremony at the Lido cabaret on the Champs-Élysées. He later disappeared, giving rise to rumours. 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 was playing in the Italian league. Maradona’s heirs believe it was stolen from the bank.

Maradona, who died in 2020 aged 60, captained Argentina to a 3-2 win over West Germany in the 1986 final in Mexico City. In a quarter-final win against England, he scored the “Hand of God” goal and the “Goal of the Century”.

Aguttes said he expects the trophy to “bring in millions of people because of its uniqueness.”

The Hand of God goal came when Maradona struck the ball into the England net. Four minutes later, he weaved his way through England’s midfield and defense and past goalkeeper Peter Shilton for what FIFA later declared the greatest goal in World Cup history.

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