Auctions can make sports stars the richest of all the rich

World’s most expensive crib

Diego Maradona was frantically jumping about his seat in the grandstand of the Olympic Stadium in Berlin. He seemed to be completely carried away while watching the 2006 World Cup quarter-final between Argentina and Germany. The eyes of the Argentinean fans were glued to their TV screens as the Germans were praying for their hero, the team’s goalkeeper Jens Lemann. The game ended in a draw so the teams had to perform a series of penalty kicks to pave the way for a semifinal. The penalty shootout was Lemann’s finest hour. He managed to keep the ball out of the goal, and took his team to the semifinal almost single-handed. In the heat of excitement none of the spectators seemed to notice the goalie taking several glances at a piece of paper stuck in his glove.

The details came to light only one day later. The media reported that Oliver “King” Kahn, outspoken and egocentric former goalkeeper of the German national team, had actually tipped off Lemann right before the penalty shootout. Kahn, a bigger-than-life figure in the German football, was expected to do some dirty deeds to his successor. But Kahn opted to help him out instead. He raced across the field and put a hand-written note in Lemann’s glove. The note advised Lemann on the goalmouth defense maneuvers during the shootout. Kahn listed the kicks of choice the Argentinean strikers were most likely to perform.

Kahn’s note soon became something of a relic. A few days ago Lemann announced his intention to auction it. He was apparently frustrated by the results of the Champion League games between Arsenal, the team he currently plays for, and the Russian CSKA. The starting ask price was set at 10 thousand euros. According to auctioneers, the price of the scrap of paper is most likely to go up ten times at the very least because lots of Germans seem to be totally crazy about football and anything that has to do with it.

Top footballers are paid handsomely for their efforts in the field. In terms of astronomical salaries, Jen Lemman is no exception to the rule. So why on earth he and other sport celebrities sell their gear by auction around the world on a regular basis? Do they have an insatiable appetite for money?

In actuality, the proceeds from the public sale of athletes’ personal effects traditionally go to various charitable organizations. The athletes sell their belongings to stay in the spotlight in terms of media and sponsors. They also use it as an effective means to build a good reputation in the eyes of the public. As a result, all the parties involved in charity cannot but benefit from the situation.

David Beckham knows best

David Beckham, the former captain of the English national football team, the former star of Manchester United, and the current substitute of Madrid’s Real, is arguably the hottest lot on the “star flea market.” At times it looks like he could live in clover only by selling his underwear and tee shirts. Beckham was 16 years old when he wrote a letter to his friend called Lee. The letter read: “I’m set to score quite a few goals during my football career. Besides, I’m going to score when it comes to girls.” His prediction proved pretty accurate.

A ball that Beckham propelled to the stands was eventually sold for $10,000 by a spectator who got hold of it.

The statutes of Beckham made of wax, bronze and even Lego transformer components have been marketed around the globe since the footballer’s career soared in the mid-1990s. One of the statues displayed the naked buttocks of the famous footballer. The segment of a football autographed by Beckham was auctioned for $24,000. The football was, in fact, made of platinum. Each section of it was autographed by some famous footballer. Zinedine Zidane’s segment was auctioned for $12,500.

Beckham’s old football boots were sold for $148,000 in Norway. His portraits are sold for an average of 10,000 pounds. A pair of pajamas, a dressing gown and a pillow case used by the footballer while staying in one of the Beijing hotels top the list of the most remarkable lots associated with “Beckham-mania.” Well, the hotel owners ended up selling the above articles for a piddling $500 despite the much-publicized claims about the “air of Beckham captured by items.”

Pele’s tee shirt is invaluable

There was a game called football even before Beckham popped up though the truth is getting increasingly improbable these days. However, the threads used by sports stars of the past are still in demand. For example, a tee shirt worn by Pele on the day he scored a decisive goal during the 1970 World Cup finals against Italy was sold for $220,000. The crazy price is apparently has to do with the authenticity of the relic. The tee shirt was put on auction by Roberto Rosato, a former member of the Italian team. He was the one who swapped tee shirts with the “King of Football” once the game was over.

England was nuts about George Best, the famous brawler and great footballer of Manchester United. The legendary footballer became something of a legend last year after passing away. Notebooks, envelops and postage stamps bearing the portrait of Best sell like hot cakes in Britain these days. It is small wonder that Best’s tee shirt was auctioned for $45,000. It stands to reason because the tee shirt was worn by Best on the day when he scored six goals in a row during the game against Nottingham Forest.

At times the authorities may as well use sports celebrities for making some money. For example, the Italian tax police confiscated Maradona’s two wristwatches and put them for auction. The move was aimed to pay part of the amount owed by Maradona to Italy in back taxes. The footballer is reported to owe Italy a total of 31 million euros in back taxes. Maradona strongly denies the allegations. However, the Italian Customs officials frisked the star during his latest visit to Italy and seized all of his “valuables.” Maradona is reported to have worn a Rolex on either of his hands at the moment. The estimated cost of one watch is 10,000 euros. A spokesman for the tax police said that the buying price of the watches should exceed the asking price by several times.

A football that costs millions

Football-related auctions boomed shortly after the 2006 World Cup. The auction frenzy reached its peak when a ball used in the finals between Italy and France was sold for $2.4 million. Haman al-Tani, the Emir of Qatar, coughed up the above sum for an inflated oval in a leather casing decorated with autographs of the members of both teams.

Brazil, an all-star team, had seemed to have good chances for winning the World Cup. However, the Brazilians could only make it to the quarter-final.

The circumstance did not stop the owners of a Swiss hotel (the Brazilian team stayed in it during the warm-up for the World Cup) from marking up the charges for rooms used by the famous players. An anonymous customer is reported to have paid $835 for a night in Ronaldo’s room.

FIFA also makes money by taking advantage of their powers. FIFA officials requested all the players of the latest World Cup to sign in a special register book. The book has become something of a compilation of autographs, 736 in total. It is expected to be sold at auction for charity.

The proceeds from the public sale of Vitaly Klitchko’s boxer trunks will go to charity too. The Ukrainian boxer attended the World Cup as a special guest. He agreed to partake in the charity by donating his trunks for the purpose. Klitchko wore the trunks the day he won the World Champion title. The auction asking price for the trunks was set at 500 euros. The lot was sold for 9 thousand in the end.

Experts estimate that today’s “star flea market” is an industry with $5 million in annual sales.

Russians follow suit

Russian sports stars are catching up with the trend. A fan who attended a charitable function had to cough up $12.5 thousand for a dinner in company of Pavel Bure and Anna Kournikova six years ago. Maria Sharapova’s mobile phone was auctioned off for $7.5 thousand earlier this year.

The outfit worn by Russia’s top female tennis player during the winning match at the U.S. Open is on sale on Sharapova’s official web site.

Komsomolskaya Pravda

Translated by Guerman Grachev

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov