Diego Maradona's Golden Ball trophy to be auctioned against wishes of his heirs

30 May 2024, 11:07 | Updated: 30 May 2024, 13:05

Diego Maradona's Golden Ball trophy will be sold at auction, despite his heirs claiming the current owner has no right to sell it.

A French court ruled the auction go ahead, despite the opposition from his heirs, their lawyer said on Thursday.

The trophy was awarded to the late Maradona after he was named the best player of the 1986 World Cup.

But it went missing for decades and only recently resurfaced.

The footballer's heirs tried to stop the auction of the trophy by starting an urgent judicial procedure.

Their lawyer Gilles Moreu said the court's ruling "was not favourable to the heirs of Diego Maradona".

The trophy is set to go under the hammer at the Aguttes auction house in Paris next Thursday - and is expected to sell for millions.

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

However, the auction house said the trophy reappeared in 2016, among other lots acquired from a private collection in Paris.

Mr Moreu said the court believed the trophy's current owner - identified as Mr Benchaieb - was "acting in good faith".

Mr Benchaieb 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 Paris' famous Champs-Elysees. It subsequently disappeared.

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 for the Italian side, Napoli. Maradona's heirs believe it was stolen from the bank.

Mr Moreu said he and his clients were "both surprised and saddened" by the ruling.

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

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Maradona, who died in 2020 at the age of 60, captained Argentina in their 3-2 win over West Germany in the 1986 World Cup final in Mexico City.

In a quarter-final win over England, he scored his infamous "Hand of God" goal and then "Goal of the Century".

The "Hand of God" goal came when Maradona inconspicuously punched the ball into England's net while tricking the referee into believing he had used his head.

Four minutes later, in a dazzling display of skill and poise, he weaved through England's midfield and defence before taking the ball around England goalkeeper Peter Shilton and passing it into the net.

FIFA later declared it the greatest goal in World Cup history.

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 (£127,500) to participate in the auction.