While the soccer world was paying close attention to the auctioning of Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” jersey last week, another soccer shirt sold for an eye-watering amount of money.
On Saturday, April 30, the shirt Lionel Messi wore during the April 2017 edition of El Clásico was sold at auction for $450,000 US (including buyer’s premium). While not nearly reaching the $8.93 million US that Maradona’s shirt fetched, this shirt still became the most expensive game-used Messi jersey ever sold.
It also fetched more than a Pele shirt from the 1970 World Cup final that sold for $222,400 US in January 2002 — which held the world record until the Maradona shirt auction closed.
Bids on the shirt were open for about two and a half weeks. A total of 19 bids were submitted, starting at $100,000 US.
Messi wore the shirt on Sunday, April 23, 2017, when his FC Barcelona side visited the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to take on heated rivals Real Madrid. The game was tied 2-2 until Messi scored two minutes into stoppage time, giving Barça all three points in what was a tight race for the La Liga championship at the time.
After scoring, Messi took off the shirt and held it up, showing his name and number on the back to the Madrid fans in celebration.
The goal was also Messi’s 500th with Barça.
Despite the loss, Real Madrid would go on to win the 2016-17 La Liga championship — their first league title since 2011-12. They finished with 93 points, three clear of second-place Barcelona.
The shirt sale was conducted by Goldin Auctions, a New Jersey-based company specializing in trading cards, collectibles and memorabilia. It previously belonged to collector and entrepreneur Damian Oliviera. Another collector with the Instagram handle @anishfutbol claims to be the lucky bidder who won the auction.
Like the Maradona shirt, Resolution Photomatching was enlisted to confirm the authenticity of the Messi shirt. The company was able to match the number on the jock tag of the shirt to a photo of Messi from earlier in the 2017 game.