French judiciary bans Maradona's Ballon d'Or auction

(CNN Spanish) — The French judiciary decided to ban the bid for the Ballon d'Or awarded by FIFA and France Football to Diego Maradona in 1986 for the best player at the World Cup in Mexico. After a provisional ruling handed down on May 30, the Versailles Court of Appeal confiscated the trophy and gave Maradona's heirs three months to present their case.

CNN attempted to contact the Versailles Court of Appeals, but did not receive a response. The auction was scheduled for Thursday, June 6, and the trophy was expected to sell for over a million dollars.

Property dispute

Who owns the trophy awarded to Maradona in 1986 is a matter for French justice to resolve. The Ballon d'Or went missing after a 1989 bank robbery in the province of Naples, where the star kept it in a safe. According to the counsel for the heirs. One of the pieces of evidence presented by the star's children's defense was a note from La Stampa newspaper dated October 28, 1989, which indicated the theft of safe deposit boxes at the Naples bank where the file was allegedly kept.

The current owner, French collector Abdelhamid Bencheib, says he bought it at closed-door public auction in 2016 and doesn't know what it was, according to a court document. He argues that this would indicate his good faith, which is the basis of French law for deciding whether or not he is the owner of a stolen object. If you don't know it and you believe it belongs to another person, you acted in good faith and are considered the owner, according to Sorbonne's legal doctor Victoria Alvarez.

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According to a recent ruling by the Court of Appeal, French justice also allows three years for parties who feel injured to file a claim. This new decision is one of the points barring the sale: it considers that the current owner did not provide sufficient evidence to prove that he received the trophy in 2016, as “the proof of purchase is irregular. '3 boxes of miscellaneous coppers, trophies and others', 'trophy cases, trophies', 'trophy box' and acquiring various lots, including four lots designated as '2 copper boxes.'

Benjaif's lawyer, Marine Le Biham, rejected the court's decision. “The court's decision was very poorly justified and my client is the bona fide owner of the Balan d'Or that he bought at auction in 2016,” he told CNN. He also made it clear that he was not thinking of any kind of deal with Maradona's heirs and hoped that the case would be resolved in their favour.

According to the court ruling, Acutes Auctions argued that “the theft allegations are contradicted by rumors that the trophy was lost during a poker tournament,” which the court dismissed as mere speculation without evidence to support it. . The house, through its legal director Léa du Sartel, insisted to CNN that the court wanted to give justice time to resolve the dispute between Maradona and the trophy's seller, in light of the June 2 decision to postpone the sale. It did not make clear that the postponement of the sale was definitive.

For his part, Gilles Morey, the defense lawyer for Maradona's heirs, told CNN that they will take the appropriate legal steps in the next three months.

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Justice now has the Ballon d'Or

The court also ordered the seizure of the trophy “to avoid the risk of its disappearance,” according to the judgement. The move can only be maintained if Maradona's children file a legal claim within the three-month period ordered by the court. Otherwise, both the sequestration action and the stay of sale will be void.

The Ballon d'Or award was expected to sell for millions at auction. The last time a Maradona item from the 1986 World Cup was auctioned was 2022, when the shirt he wore in the quarter-final against England sold for more than $9 million.

Wilmot Chandler

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