Pelé, widely seen as the finest football player of all time, is auctioning off his entire collection of awards and memorabilia accumulated over six decades in the game.
Experts believe the event could become the biggest sports auction ever and fetch up to £5m in bids.
The Brazilian three-time World Cup winner and Fifa Player of the Century is selling everything from his replica of the Jules Rimet Trophy to his 1977 North American Soccer League championship ring.
More than 2,000 items will go under the hammer, covering the years from when Pelé turned professional at 15 with Santos FC in 1956 to being named as the club’s lifetime global ambassador in 2014.
The auction, handled by Beverly Hills-based Julien’s Auctions, will take place in London over three days and is expected to attract bids from around the world.
Martin Nolan, executive director at Julien’s Auctions, said it will be a “historic” sale, probably the “biggest sports auction ever”.
He added: “It is just phenomenal to see such a vast collection from one man in one room.”
Nolan said the lots could attract between £1.5m and £3m, although it could reach as high as £5m.
The copy of the Jules Rimet Trophy, the original World Cup, is the most expensive lot, with an estimate of £280,000 to £410,000. Pelé’s three World Cup winners’ medals are expected to net up to £140,000 each, while the ball with which he scored his 1,000th goal is predicted to gain £40,000.
Those with a tighter purse can snap up lots such as the Brazilian number 10 shirt Pelé wore at a match to mark his 50th birthday in Milan, in 1990 – estimated to fetch between £1,400 and £2,800 – with other items such as old passports and licences also up for sale..
Explaining the sale, Nolan said: “He’s 75 now and this is his legacy, and he wants to see these items all over the world in museums and in the hands of people who are going to cherish them and love them and appreciate them for many, many years to come.”
Pelé said: “Having donated a significant portion of my collection to the city of Santos, I have decided to allow fans and collectors to own a piece of my history as well.
“I hope they treasure these artefacts and share my story with their children and generations to come. I will also be donating a portion of the proceeds from the auction to Pequeno Principe, the largest paediatric hospital in Brazil.”
Despite hanging up his boots almost 40 years ago, Pelé remains the game’s greatest hero. Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in Tres Coracoes in October 1940, Pelé grew up in poverty. He was originally apprenticed to be a shoemaker but developed a talent for football by kicking a rolled-up sock stuffed with rags around the streets.
At 17, he effectively won the 1958 World Cup for Brazil with a hat-trick in the semi-final against France and two goals in the final against the host nation, Sweden. He was also in the squad that triumphed in 1962 and scored again in the 1970 final.
After almost 20 years with Santos, Pelé moved to New York Cosmos in 1975, becoming the face of US football.
His life story was told in a recent biopic, Birth of a Legend.
The auction will take place on 7-9 June.
Source: The Guardian