Diego Maradona's 'Hand of God' jersey sells for world-record price at auction

The jersey that Argentina's Diego Maradona wore when he scored the "Hand of God" goal against England in the 1986 World Cup has sold for a world-record price of $9.28 million at an auction at Sotheby's in London.

The final price surpasses both the previous record for a match-worn jersey, which was the $5.64 million paid in 2019 on Babe Ruth's 1928-1930 New York Yankees jersey, and the record price for a piece of sports memorabilia, which stood at $8.8 million for the original hand-drawn Olympic manifesto that was sold in 2019 in New York.

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Maradona wore the shirt in a quarterfinal against England in 1986 in which he scored both of Argentina's goals in their 2-1 win. The first was the famous "Hand of God" goal where he palmed the ball past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton. Maradona, who died in November 2020, had said the goal was "a little from the head of Maradona, and a little with the hand of God."

His second goal is widely considered one of the finest to grace a World Cup. Maradona picked up the ball on the halfway line, dribbled through the England team and dinked it over Shilton to give Argentina a 2-0 lead. It was later named Goal of the Century by FIFA.

Steve Hodge, the former England midfielder, swapped shirts with Maradona after the 1986 match. He had previously turned down potential bids for the shirt, and it had been on display in the National Football Museum since 2002. But on April 6, Sotheby's announced the shirt was up for auction.

"This historic shirt 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, Sotheby's head of streetwear and modern collectables. "In the weeks since we announced the auction, we have been inundated by sports fans and collectors alike, with a palpable excitement in the air for the duration of the public exhibition -- and this unfiltered enthusiasm was echoed in the bidding. This is arguably the most coveted football shirt to ever come to auction, and so it is fitting that it now holds the auction record for any object of its kind."

Sotheby's placed an estimate of $5 million 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, overhead premium and tax were all factored in, the price exceeded the previous record of $5.64 million on Ruth's jersey.

The listing was not without controversy. When Sotheby's announced the auction, Maradona's daughter Dalma claimed it was not the correct jersey. She said the shirt Hodge had was in fact the jersey Maradona wore in the first half of that 1986 match, not the one he had on when he scored both goals.

But Sotheby's turned to Resolution Photomatching to independently verify Hodge had the correct jersey from the second half, and it was the "Hand of God" shirt. The buyer will remain anonymous, and auctioneer Brahm Wachter told ESPN that "whoever buys it, [the jersey] probably never surfaces again."

This auction comes just a month after an unnamed bidder spent $5.516 million at auction on the clubs Tiger Woods used to win all four majors between 2000 and 2001. Sources within the sports memorabilia world told ESPN they expect a further boom in demand for match-worn jerseys, specifically from football, over the coming months.