The shirt that Argentine Diego Maradona wore when he scored the “Hand of God” goal against England in the 1986 World Cup sold for a world record price of $9.28 million at an auction at Sotheby’s in London.
The final price exceeds both the previous record for a jersey worn in the game, which was $5.64 million paid in 2019 on a 1928-1930 Babe Ruth jersey for the New York Yankees, and the record price for a sports memorabilia piece, which was $8.8 million. For the original hand-drawn Olympic statement sold in 2019 in New York.
Maradona wore the shirt in the quarter-final match against England in 1986 and scored Argentina’s two goals in their 2-1 victory. The first was the famous “Hand of God” goal as he passed the ball past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton. Maradona, who died in November 2020, had said the goal was “a little bit of Maradona’s head, a little bit of God’s hand”.
His second goal is widely considered one of the best World Cup goals. Maradona picked up the ball midway, dribbled it across the England team and tipped it off over Chilton to give Argentina a 2-0 lead. It was later named the Goal of the Century by FIFA.
Former England midfielder Steve Hodge swapped the shirts with Maradona after the 1986 match. He had previously turned down potential bids for the shirt, and it had been on display at the National Football Museum since 2002. But on April 6, Sotheby’s announced that the shirt was on display at auction.
“This historic jersey is a tangible reminder of an important moment not only in the history of sports, but in the history of the 20th century,” said Brahm Wachter, Head of Streetwear and Modern Collectibles at Sotheby’s. “In the weeks since we announced the auction, we have immersed sports fans and collectors alike, with remarkable excitement in the air for the duration of the public exhibition – and that unfiltered enthusiasm reverberated in the bidding. That enthusiasm is arguably the most sought-after football shirt ever for auction, and so it is appropriate that he now keep the auction record for anything of its kind.”
Sotheby’s put estimates ranging from $5 to $7.5 million on the shirt, and within hours of the auction opening on April 21, there was a first bid of $4.99 million. Once the buyer’s premium, general premium and taxes were taken into account, the price surpassed the previous record of $5.64 million on a Roth shirt.
The list was not without controversy. When Sotheby’s announced the auction, Maradona’s daughter Dalma claimed it wasn’t the right shirt. She said that the shirt that Hodge wore was actually the shirt Maradona wore in the first half of that 1986 game, not the shirt he was wearing when he scored both goals.
But Sotheby’s turned to Resolution Photomatching to independently verify that Hodge had the right jersey from the second half, and that it was a “Hand of God” jersey. The buyer will remain anonymous, and auctioneer Brahm Wachter told ESPN that “whoever buys it, [the jersey] It may never appear again.”
The auction comes just one month after an unnamed bidder spent $5.516 million in an auction of clubs that Tiger Woods used to win all of the Big Four between 2000 and 2001. Sources in the sports memorabilia world told ESPN they expect an additional boom in demand. Who wears them at matches? T-shirts, specifically football, for the coming months.
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