Pele is set to auction off some 2,000 items, including his one-of-a-kind Jules Rimet trophy that could fetch at least $1million, auctioneers said on Thursday.
The Brazilian, who won the FIFA World Cup three times in 1958, 1962 and 1970, is also putting World Cup winning medals up for sale, in addition to other career memorabilia including the ball he scored his 1,000th goal with.
Pele will sell the items at a three-day auction in London from June 7-9. It will be preceded by a public exhibition starting June 1.
The triple World Cup soccer winner is regarded by many as the greatest soccer player of all time is also selling off the jerseys he wore while playing for Brazilian club Santos FC and the New York Cosmos in what marks his first ever public offering of career memorabilia, Julien’s Auctions said.
“Pele is like the Marilyn Monroe of the sports world. He is such an icon and a great ambassador for soccer,” Reuters cited Martin Nolan, executive director of Beverly Hills-based Julien’s Auctions.
Pele, whose given name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, became in 1958 at age 17 the youngest ever person to play in, and score in a World Cup final. He went on to help Brazil to World Cup victories in 1962 and 1970, and holds the Guinness World Record for most goals in a career with 1,283.
Now 75 years old, and after recent replacement hip and prostate surgery, Pele said that having donated much of his collection to the city of Santos, he had “decided to allow fans and collectors to own a piece of my history as well. I hope they treasure these artifacts and share my story with their children and generations to come.”
He said a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to the Pequeno Principe children’s hospital in the Brazilian city of Curitiba.
The top item for auction is a Jules Rimet trophy that was created especially for Pele by world soccer body FIFA and the Mexican government after he led Brazil to the nation’s third World Cup victory in Mexico in 1970. It is inscribed with his three wins for Brazil.
Julien’s has placed an estimated price of $400,000 – $600,000 on the trophy but says it could sell for much more.
“It is such a unique item. We think that is a very conservative estimate. This is possibly something that could sell for up to one million dollars,” said Nolan.
Pele’s three World Cup medals are expected to fetch up to $200,000, while the ball with which he scored his 1,000th goal is expected to sell for $40,000-$60,000. The player’s 1977 New York Cosmos NASL championship ring, 2004 Summer Olympics Torch Relay and L’Equipe Athlete of the Century award are also for sale.
Yet the most humble and precious item of all, if it can be verified, may be a makeshift soccer ball made of rolled-up socks that the pre-teen Pele kicked around the streets of Bauru.
“We have softballs stitched up in canvas but we haven’t definitively established yet that we have that first ball. If that ball was to exist it would be phenomenal,” said Nolan.