Most Expensive Sports Memorabilia

Sporting greatness for mere mortals can cost a fortune, particularly these five pieces of historic sporting memorabilia.

We all have memories of great sporting events but, if the pockets are deep enough, you may take the chance to earn a piece of historic memorabilia.

Sales and auctions take place for all sorts of mementos and some go for huge sums of money, so here is a list of the five most expensive sporting artefacts that have gone under the hammer.

Babe Ruth’s New York Yankees Jersey – $5.6m

Babe Ruth is the biggest icon in baseball history, so it is little surprise that the jersey he wore for the Yankees between 1928 and 1930, which included one of his seven World Series victories, has gone for a vast amount of money.

A huge auction was organised at Yankee Stadium in 2019 for a number of the items related to the Sultan of Swat and ultimately raised more than $8m.

Muhammad Ali’s Belt – $6.8m

Boxing’s biggest seller is related to one of the sport’s most iconic fights – the Rumble in the Jungle, which took place in 1974.

Ferocious world heavyweight champion George Foreman was expected to make light work of 32-year-old Muhammad Ali in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), but the bout didn’t turn out like that.

Ali allowed Foreman to punch himself out before beating him in the eighth round, and his belt from that fight was sold for $6.8m in July 2022.

It was bought by serial memorabilia collector Jim Irsay, who is the owner of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.

Olympic Games Manifesto – $8.8m

The most expensive document in sporting history is just 14 pages long.

It was the manifesto that was written by Pierre de Coubertin when he made a presentation to the French Athletics Association in 1892 concerning the founding of the modern Olympic Games.

It came two years before the formation of the International Olympic Committee and the first games took place in Athens in 1896.

The document was expected to reach around $1m when it went under the hammer at Sotheby’s in 2019, but it was bought for more than eight times the estimate.

Diego Maradona’s Hand of God Shirt – $9.28m

Diego Maradona’s first goal in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final between Argentina and England is the most infamous in football history, and the shirt he wore in that game is the second-most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever to have been auctioned.

Maradona punched the ball into the net in Mexico City before scoring a super solo goal to help secure Argentina’s progression. The shirt he wore came into the possession of England midfielder Steve Hodge, who swapped jerseys with the superstar at the end of the game.

Hodge kept the prized possession in a vault until it was auctioned in May 2022 and fetched more than $9m.

Michael Jordan’s Last Dance Shirt – $10m

Michael Jordan won six NBA titles for the Chicago Bulls and the 1998 triumph against the Utah Jazz was the most celebrated.

It inspired the ESPN documentary The Last Dance and the famous number 23 shirt he wore in game one of that series is the most expensive piece of sporting memorabilia ever.

The Bulls lost that match but went on to win the series 4-2, and the shirt became the first eight-figure sporting souvenir when it was auctioned in 2022.

A vastly experienced journalist, Ian has worked the beat on a number of local newspapers and covers a number of different sports for the Racing Post
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