Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ Jersey Sells for $ 9.3 Million

During the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals, the English soccer player Steve Hodge looped a ball to his goalie that was intercepted by the Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona, enabling Maradona to score one of the most notorious goals against Hodge’s team.

It would become one of the most frequently-discussed goals in professional soccer: In a fast-moving sequence, Maradona got away with using his left hand to palm the ball, and he later invoked “the hand of God” to explain what .

In the stadium tunnel after Argentina won, 2-1, Hodge asked Maradona to exchange jerseys.

Now, the victor of the exchange seems debatable. Maradona advanced to the finals and won, but was not sold for a limited amount of sports memorabilia.

Sotheby’s announced the sale on Wednesday on Twitter. It did not specify the buyer. In a news release, Sotheby’s quoted Hodge calling it a “pleasure” to have exhibited the shirt for the last 20 years at the National Football Museum in Manchester, England.

He added, “The Hand of God shirt has deep cultural meaning to the football world, the people of Argentina, and the people of England and I’m certain that the world’s most iconic football shirt. ”

Leila Dunbar, the appraiser of pop culture merchandise, said the sale had been emblematic of the recent increase in the value of sports memorabilia. “Since 2020,” he said, “this is the last three decades in the business.”

Maradona, generally considered along with Pelé among the best-ever soccer players, was known for scrappiness and sudden bursts of virtuosity. Both of these characteristics were epitomized by his play in the second half of that quarterfinal match against England, which took place in Mexico City.

After the left-hand infraction, Maradona immediately began to celebrate, before English players had a chance to explode at the referees.

Four minutes later, Maradona scored what the soccer fans’ governing body, FIFA, as the “World Cup Goal of the Century.” Starting in his own team’s half of the field, dribbling backward momentarily, sprinting one moment and another slowing to a prance, he traveled 70 yards, circumvented five English players, then blew the team’s goalie and – in a nanosecond before tumbling over – kicked in the winning goal.

The Falklands War, which ended in a British defeat of Argentina, gave the match a larger symbolic dimension.

“This was revenge,” Maradona wrote in his autobiography, “I Am Diego” (2000). “It was something bigger than us: We were defending our flag.”

The authenticity of the jersey was questioned a few weeks beforehand, when Maradona’s eldest daughter, Dalma Maradona, told Agence France-Presse that her father had been given the first unequalful first half.

A spokeswoman for Sotheby’s told AFP that the auction house had “extensive diligence and scientific research” to authenticate the jersey’s use during the game’s climactic moments. Maradona and Hodge confirm the exchange of jerseys after the game. (In an email, a Sotheby’s spokesman assured that the jersey hadn’t been washed since then.)

Rich Mueller, the founder and editor of Sports Collectors Daily, a dedicated website for the sports memorabilia industry, said the sale of memorabilia, in an auction or a private sale.

Babe Ruth jersey, which sold for $ 5.6 million in June 2019, and which sold for $ 8.8 million in December 2019.

To illustrate the prices of sports memorabilia have skyrocketed, Ms. Dunbar, the appraiser, pointed out that in 2017, and Jackie Robinson jersey from 1947, his rookie season, sold for around $ 2 million, and last year, and 1950 Robinson jersey sold for more than twice as much – around $ 4.2 million. Ms. Dunbar estimated that a Robinson could now bring $ 10 million to $ 20 million.

“People are realizing these items that can be appreciated as a work of art,” Brahm Wachter, the head of streetwear and modern collectibles at Sotheby’s, said. “I’ve always wanted the privilege of selling.”

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