Lionel Messi World Cup shirts to be sold for over £8m in biggest-ever sports auction
Lionel Messi’s match worn World Cup final jersey is among a collection of his Argentina shirts that will go to auction for an expected world record sale of more than £8million.
Six tops from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar – in which Argentina beat France on penalties to lift the trophy – are being auctioned as a set by Sotheby’s in New York, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity.The shirts are from the first half of the final, the semi-final against Croatia, the quarter-final against Netherlands, and round-of 16 match versus Australia, and two of the three group-stage games, with an estimated price of at least $10m (£8m).
That would make it a record for a ‘sports memorabilia collection’.The current record for an item of sports memorabilia is Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls jersey from the 1998 NBA Finals Game 1 – from the famed ‘Last Dance’ season – which sold for £8.1million in September of last year at Sotheby’s New York.By comparison, the most expensive piece of music memorabilia is Kurt Cobain’s guitar that he used during an MTV Unplugged performance in 1993, just five months before he died. That sold for £4.2m in 2020.
Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s head of modern collectibles, said: ‘The 2022 FIFA World Cup stands as one of the greatest events in sports history, intrinsically connected to Messi’s valiant journey and firmly establishing his status as the greatest player of all-time.
‘The sale of these six shirts stands as a monumental occasion in auction history, offering fans and collectors a connection to Messi’s crowning achievement. It is an honour for Sotheby’s to present and exhibit these invaluable collectables to the public, which encapsulate the sheer brilliance of a player who has redefined the boundaries of football excellence.’
The current record for one of Messi’s jerseys, £360,000, is from the 2017 El Clásico between Real Madrid and Barcelona in which he scored an injury-time winner at the Bernabeu.
However, this collection is set to bring even more than the £7.1million that an anonymous bidder paid for Diego Maradona’s Hand of God jersey from the 1986 World Cup quarter-final, a record for a football shirt. That was sold last year at Sotheby’s in London by former England midfielder Steve Hodge, who had asked Maradona for the jersey in the tunnel after the game in Mexico City
Messi scored twice in the final in Qatar as he finally won the World Cup at the fifth attempt. The game, a 3-3 draw, is considered one of the greatest-ever finals.Sotheby’s said: ‘The shirts are being brought to auction by US-based tech startup AC Momento, who in addition to their mobile app for sports fans, partners with high-profile athletes (like Messi) to help manage their match-worn memorabilia collections.
‘A portion of the proceeds from the auction will be donated to UNICAS Project, led by Sant Joan de Déu (SJD) Barcelona Children’s Hospital with the support of Leo Messi Foundation, to meet the needs of children suffering from rare diseases. This follows the work the Leo Messi Foundation has completed with the SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital Pediatric Cancer Center which treats 400 children with cancer each year.‘
The set of shirts will be on view at Sotheby’s New York in a free, public exhibition open from 30 November to 14 December (the same period during which bids are invited).’