The hand of god under a hammer

Maradona’s 1986 World Cup match shirt is estimated to fetch in excess of £4 million at an upcoming auction

The shirt is a reminder of that important moment, and is arguably the most coveted football shirt to ever come to auction.
The shirt is a reminder of that important moment, and is arguably the most coveted football shirt to ever come to auction.

The art scene gets alive and kicking with three notable art auctions in the coming month that take us through a vivid, historic art scene. Sotheby’s offer Diego Maradona’s 1986 World Cup match shirt worn during both the ‘The Hand of God’ and ‘Goal of the Century’ goals, estimated in excess of £4 million. The shirt is a reminder of that important moment, and is arguably the most coveted football shirt to ever come to auction.

Sotheby’s has expanded into sports memorabilia spaces in recent years. It holds the record for the most valuable game-worn sneakers, when Michael Jordan’s earliest known regular season Nike Air Ships sold for $1.5 million, and the most valuable sports memorabilia item, the Olympic manifesto, which made $8.8 million. The current record for any game-worn shirt is held by Babe Ruth’s Yankees road Jersey, sold for $5.64 million in an auction in 2019. But ‘The Hand of God’ is a singular moment not only in the history of sports, but in the history of the 20th century. The moment resonated far beyond the world of football, coming soon after the Falklands conflict, and has inspired books, films and documentaries. Maradona is remembered as one of the greatest to ever play the game of football, and this particular game is an instrumental part of his legacy.

The shirt is offered on the market for the first time, with a dedicated online sale open for bidding until May 4, alongside an exhibition at Sotheby’s London, as stated in a press note.

Another coveted Christie’s New York 21st century evening sale, Banksy’s Diamond In The Rough (2010) highlights a brilliant combination of readymade surfaces and Banksy’s instantly recognisable style. The auction is estimated to bring $3,000,000 — $5,000,000, painted on a steel and glass truck door, employs graffiti as the backdrop for a young girl rendered in Banksy’s signature stencil mode, positioned at the bottom of the frame.

This painting stands as testament to the place of street art, as Ana Maria Celis, Christie’s head of the 21st Century evening sale, says in a press note, “One of the most enigmatic figures in 21st century art, Banksy is a noted critic of society and capitalism who continues to push the envelope in recontextualising the historical significance of street art. Banksy’s activated walls, doors, and various detritus with his stencils, sprays, and brush are entrancing — they speak to a specific moment in contemporary culture and pay homage to the living organism that is the metropolitan city. This work is a brilliant example of Banksy’s unmatched ability to inject meaning into found objects and flawlessly incorporate urbanity into his practice.”

Diamond In The Rough made its debut in the 2010 influential The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) survey, Art in the Streets, the first major US museum exhibition of graffiti and street art. The work will be on view at Christie’s New York ahead of the Marquee Week sale in May.

In another auction of a previously unknown drawing by Michelangelo, ‘A Nude Young Man’ (after Masaccio) surrounded by two figures, executed early in his career, will be up for auction at Christie’s Paris in May. This exceptionally rare work, one of the very few drawings by Michelangelo still in private hands, will be offered with an estimate on request; in the region of €30 million. The work was designated a French National Treasure, originally preventing its export from the country for a period of 30 months. The French government removed this designation and has granted its export licence, enabling the drawing to be offered without any restriction to collectors worldwide.

The sale of this well-preserved drawing takes its place among the ranks of other major works on paper offered at auction by Christie’s, including Raphael’s Head of a Muse, sold in London for more than $38 million in 2009; Leonardo da Vinci’s exquisite Head of a bear, which achieved almost $11.8 million in 2021; a nude male study by Michelangelo, sold in London in 2000, for more than $12 million.

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