French judicial officials open theft probe before Maradona’s World Cup Golden Ball goes to auction

Maradona Trophy Auction Soccer 45669

Argentina’s football star Diego Maradona, left, and West German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher pose for photos with their World Cup Golden Ball awards during the football Golden Shoe Award ceremony held in Paris, France, on November 13, 1986.
| Photo Credit: AP

French judicial officials have opened an investigation into the possible theft of a trophy that was awarded to the late Diego Maradona after the 1986 World Cup and is set to be auctioned.

The prosecutor’s office in Nanterre, outside Paris, told The Associated Press on May 23 that the probe was handed over to a special police unit combating trafficking in cultural property.

The prosecutor’s office declined to give more details about the ongoing probe but said it was opened after it received a complaint relating to the resale of allegedly stolen goods.

A lawyer representing Maradona’s heirs confirmed to AP that he filed a lawsuit this week.

In a separate legal action, Maradona’s heirs are also trying to stop the auction of the 1986 Golden Ball trophy received by Maradona for being the best player of the World Cup that year.

Maradona’s trophy was stolen, say heirs

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.”

The trophy had been missing for decades after it disappeared in uncertain circumstances and only recently resurfaced. It is set to be auctioned in Paris on June 6 by the Aguttes auction house.

After Gilles Moreu, the lawyer for Maradona’s heirs in France, filed an urgent request to have the Golden Ball withdrawn from the auction, a hearing took place on Thursday. A decision is set to be delivered on May 30.

Maradona’s heirs say the trophy was stolen and claim 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.

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 trophy is set ‘to fetch millions’

Mr. Moreu, who represents two daughters of Maradona, say his family wants the sale to be banned because it believes the Golden Ball belongs to them.

The auction house’s argument is that the person who bought the trophy years ago was not aware it had been stolen.

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 June 6 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 as the greatest goal in World Cup history.


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