Replica US Open trophy leads auction of items seized from tennis star Boris Becker

A selection of items from the Boris Becker collection.

The auction of sporting memorabilia seized from Boris Becker has finally taken place with some extraordinary prices bid for a series of trophies won by the bankrupt tennis star.

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Alex Capon

A full-size silver replica of the US Open trophy by Tiffany & Co that Boris Becker won his only US Open title by beating Ivan Lendl in the 1989 final. The trophy was previously exhibited in the Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport, Rhode Island, USA. It was bid to £150,250 and was the top lot of the Wyles Hardy sale.

The top lot of the sale was a full-size silver replica of the US Open trophy that Becker won in 1989 in his only US Open title by beating Ivan Lendl in the final. Made by Tiffany, it attracted a flurry of bids and sold at an astonishing £150,250.

The 82-lot timed online-only auction of medals, awards, trophies, rackets, watches and photographs ran from June 24 to July 11. The items were being sold ‘on behalf of the trustees in bankruptcy of the estate of Boris Becker’ in a sale conducted by business asset valuer and auctioneer Wyles Hardy & Co.

The three-times Wimbledon champion was declared bankrupt in June 2017 with a reported debt of over £3m owed to the private bank Arbuthnot Latham & Co. A court ruling enabled creditors to take hold of Becker’s assets and memorabilia collection.

Three-times Wimbledon champion Boris Becker. Auctioneer Wyles Hardy had been instructed to sell items from his collection and offered them in an 82-lot timed auction. Image: Ipernity via Wikimedia Commons.

Originally, the auction was due to be offered in June last year but, shortly after the bidding had opened, Becker was able to get the sale postponed in the wake of his claim of diplomatic immunity as a cultural attaché for an African state.

Applying for a court injunction, Becker’s lawyers claimed his appointment as a diplomat by the Central African Republic (CAR) afforded him protection from any legal claims. They also claimed that the process had targeted the “personal dignity” of their client with the timing of the sale coinciding with Becker appearing on TV as part of the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage.

A selection of items from the Boris Becker collection.

The overall total for the sale was £687,000, well above the £250,000 that had been expected. Other high-priced lots included a replica of the Davis Cup winners trophy that made £52,100 and the Renshaw Cup (hallmarked 1987) that made £40,250.

Lead trustee to the bankruptcy estate of Boris Becker, Mark Ford of Smith & Williamson’s, said: “Following huge amounts of global attention on the auction of the trophies and memorabilia from Boris Becker’s career, we are pleased to announce that it has come to a close with the total bids significantly exceeding last year. The bids received show the enduring appeal Mr Becker has with the public, and supports the trustees’ decision to postpone the auction last year and to hold it again this year during the grass court tennis season.

“We will be reporting back to creditors in due course and in line with our obligations. We still hope to locate and recover the missing trophies including six relating to Mr Becker’s successes at Wimbledon and his two Australian Open titles.”

Terry Madden, Wyles Hardy & Co, said: “The team are extremely pleased with the results of today’s auction. With a total of 495 participants from 32 different nationalities registering to bid in the auction and some placing bids from the Wimbledon crowd. It appears that free from the uncertainty created by the intervention last year, the sale has exceeded all our estimates.”