June 21st, 2024

Maradona’s heirs lose court battle to block auction of World Cup Golden Ball trophy

By Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press on May 30, 2024.

Gilles Moreu, left, and Lola Chunet, lawyers for Maradona's daughters Dalma and Gianinna, discuss before a court hearing, Thursday, May 23, 2024 in Nanterre, outside Paris. Diego Maradona's heirs filed a lawsuit to try to stop the auction of a trophy he was awarded after the 1986 World Cup won by Argentina. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

A French court ruled the auction of a trophy awarded to the late Diego Maradona after the 1986 World Cup can go ahead as planned despite opposition from his heirs, their lawyer told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Maradona’s heirs tried to stop the auction of the Golden Ball trophy he received for being the best player of the 1986 World Cup by starting an urgent judicial procedure. Lawyer Gilles Moreu told The AP the court’s ruling “was not favorable to the heirs of Diego Maradona.”

The trophy is set to be auctioned next Thursday in Paris by the Aguttes auction house.

The Golden Ball was missing for decades after it disappeared in uncertain circumstances and only recently resurfaced. Maradona’s heirs say the trophy was stolen and claimed the current 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.

Moreu said the president of the Nanterre court outside Paris considered the current owner of the trophy, identified as Mr. Benchaieb, “should be considered as acting in good faith.”

Benchaieb 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.

Moreu added he and his clients were “both surprised and saddened” by the ruling.

“We intend to use all available means of recourse between now and June 6,” he said.

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.”

Bidders will be asked to make a deposit of 150,000 euros ($161,000) to participate in the auction.

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.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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