Tom Hamilton, Senior WriterDec 14, 2023, 12:35 PM ET
Close• Joined ESPN in 2011
• Covered two Olympics, a pair of Rugby World Cups and two British & Irish Lions tours
• Previously rugby editor, and became senior writer in 2018
Six of the shirts Lionel Messi wore during Argentina’s historic 2022 World Cup campaign, including one from their victory over France in the final, sold for $7.8 million at auction on Thursday.
Three bids brought up the eventual selling price of $7.8m — a total including buyer’s premium — at Sotheby’s New York.
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The shirts that Messi wore in the first half of six of Argentina’s matches in Qatar were brought to auction by tech startup AC Momento and have gone to an anonymous bidder.
Despite hopes that the lot would reach a record price, the total fell short of the highest price paid for a game-worn jersey at auction, which still stands at the $10.1m spent in September 2022 on Michael Jordan’s 1998 NBA Finals Game 1 jersey.
That just edged the $9.28m for Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” Argentina jersey, which was sold in May 2022.
The eventual price is the highest for sports memorabilia at auction this year and sets a record for Messi memorabilia. Heading into this auction, the previous record spent on a piece of Messi match-worn clothing stood at the $450,000 (spent in May 2022) on a shirt he wore for Barcelona in El Clásico in 2017.
Messi captained Argentina to the triumph in December, beating France on penalties in the final after a thrilling 3-3 draw.
The collection included shirts worn by Messi in the first half of two of the three group stage matches, their 2-1 win over Australia in the round of 16, their quarterfinal penalty shootout win over the Netherlands, the 3-0 triumph over Croatia in the semifinals, and the victory over France.
Messi announced the auction back on Nov. 20, saying: “Six World Cup shirts. One auction. Today, my friends at @acmomento are announcing an auction at @sothebys for six shirts I wore during the World Cup in Qatar, including my shirt from the Final.
“Place your bids online at Sotheby’s from 30 November – 14 December. 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 to meet the needs of children suffering from rare diseases.”