French court stops auction of Maradona's Ballon d'Or

BUENOS AIRES.- The heirs of Diego Maradona managed to stop the auction of the Ballon d'Or that the Argentine soccer legend received after the 1986 World Cup after a french court He ordered on Wednesday that the trophy be placed under judicial seizure.

The Versailles appeals court reversed a judicial decision issued last week that allowed the auction to continue despite the rejection of Maradona's heirs.

For the appeals court, there is a genuine dispute over the true owner of the Ballon d'Or that Maradona won after being proclaimed the best player of the 1986 tournament.

Pending a resolution on the merits of the case, the court ordered a judicial seizure to avoid the risk of the trophy disappearing again – it had been missing for decades.

Gilles Moreu, the heirs' lawyer, informed The Associated Press that he will proceed to file an appeal for a court to review the merits of the case and decide who owns the trophy.

French justice opened an investigation last month after receiving a complaint about an alleged theft.

The history of the Ballon d'Or:

The Ballon d'Or trophy, for the best player in the World Cup, was lost for decades amid circumstances that have never been clarified and recently reappeared. Maradona's family claims that the trophy was stolen and that the current owner does not have the power to sell it. Aguttes indicated that the trophy reappeared in 2016 as part of a lot acquired by a private collector in Paris.

The current owner and Aguttes assure that when the individual acquired the trophy – years ago – he did not know that it had been stolen.

Maradona received the award in a ceremony at the Lido cabaret on the Champs-Élysées in 1986. He later disappeared, which generated all kinds of rumors.

Some claimed that he lost it playing poker or that he sold it to pay his debts, Aguttes said. Others claimed that Maradona kept it safely in a bank in Naples and it was stolen by a gang of gangsters from the region in 1989, when he was playing in the Italian league. According to the story told by a member who quit the mafia, the trophy was melted down and turned into gold pieces. Maradona's heirs suspect it was stolen from the bank.

Maradona, who died in 2020 at the age of 60, received the award for his brilliant performance as captain of Argentina, which lifted the cup by beating West Germany 3-2 in the final at the Azteca stadium in the City of Mexico. But before that, he scored the controversial “Hand of God†goal and the “Goal of the Century†in the 2-1 victory over England in the quarterfinals.

Aguttes announced last week the postponement of the auction due to the theft investigation.