During the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, Lionel Messi wore a set of six jerseys, which were sold for a stunning amount, although they did not break the record for the most expensive sports memorabilia ever auctioned.
Conducted by the renowned luxury auction house Sotheby’s, the online auction concluded on Thursday, December 14th, with the final bid of $7,803,000. This amount is both under Sotheby’s original estimate of $10 million and the world record for the most expensive sports memorabilia ever auctioned. This title still belongs to a jersey worn by Michael Jordan in the first game of the NBA Finals 1998, which was sold at Sotheby’s for $10.1 million in September 2022.
As of Thursday morning, only three bids had been placed for the auction, with the price at $6.5 million. However, similar to the auction of Argentine hero Diego Maradona’s „Hand of God“ jersey in May 2022, which ended at $8.93 million, the bidding heated up in the minutes before the auction’s 12:01 pm ET end and eventually landed just over $7.8 million.
According to the Associated Press, a portion of the auction proceeds goes to the UNICAS project, an organization led by the Sant Joan de Déu Barcelona children’s hospital and supported by the Leo Messi Foundation, which cares for the needs of children with rare diseases.
The auction included jerseys worn by Messi during six of Argentina’s seven games in the World Cup in Qatar, including the final against France on December 18th. All are labeled on the chest with the opponent, date, and stadium of each game. The only jersey missing from the set was from Argentina’s third group stage game against Poland.
The jerseys auctioned came from the first half of Argentina’s games in Qatar; Messi’s jerseys in the second half were usually swapped with players from the opposing teams. All shirts underwent extensive photo matching to verify their authenticity.
The shirts were on display at Sotheby’s headquarters in New York during the auction.