New York: Six football shirts worn by Argentine megastar Lionel Messi at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have sold for $7.8 million at auction, the auction house told AFP on Thursday.
There were three bids in total on what auction house Sotheby's described as "Lionel Messi's match-worn iconic light blue and white, vertical striped Argentina shirts from his historic 2022 FIFA World Cup run".
The hammer price broke the record for a sale of an item linked to the Argentine star, and is the most valuable item of sporting memorabilia sold at auction this year so far, Sotheby's said.
Messi led the storied Argentina to a 4-2 victory on penalties over France at Qatar's 80,000-capacity Lusail stadium on December 18, 2022.
A monumental occasion
"The 2022 FIFA World Cup stands as one of the greatest events in sports history, intrinsically connected to Messi's valiant journey and firmly establishing his status as the greatest player of all time," said Brahm Wachter, Sotheby's head of modern collectibles.
"The sale of these six shirts stands as a monumental occasion in auction history, offering fans and collectors a connection to Messi's crowning achievement.
"It is an honour for Sotheby's to present and exhibit these invaluable collectables to the public, which encapsulate the sheer brilliance of a player who has redefined the boundaries of football excellence.
"These historic shirts are not only a tangible reminder of one of the most important moments in the history of sports, but are principally connected to the pinnacle moment in the career of the most decorated football player in history."
Athlete of the Year
Earlier this month, Messi was named Time magazine's "Athlete of the Year" for 2023 after a trailblazing season marked by an eighth Ballon d'Or award and his ground-breaking move to Major League Soccer's Inter Miami.
The 36-year-old Messi made his debut for Miami in July following an acrimonious departure from Paris Saint-Germain.
The World Cup-winner also rebuffed a lucrative move to Saudi Arabia in favor of a new chapter in MLS.
The eight-time Ballon d'Or winner made an instant impact on Miami's fortunes, playing a pivotal role in helping the team win the expanded Leagues Cup, a cross-border competition for teams from MLS and Mexico's top flight.