Customs takes shirt off football collector's back - not realising its $10,000 value
A French collector has lost his prized World Cup final shirt after it was destroyed by customs officers
A match-worn football shirt bought through eBay for €7,350 has been destroyed by French customs officials.
The shirt, worn by French striker David Trezeguet as he warmed the bench during his team's 1998 World Cup final victory over Brazil, was en route from Brazil to the French home of collector Oliver Demolis when it was seized by officials.
Upon presenting himself at the customs office Demolis was surprised to learn that the shirt, which contained Trezeguet's name and number 20 on the back, had been deemed a fake and was subsequently destroyed.
Demolis, who has a number of football shirts in his collection, including two worn by Zinedine Zidane, told the Le Dauphine newspaper: "It was a well-known seller and the jersey was official. It was the last piece in my collection."
He added that the rarity of game worn World Cup 1998 French shirts had ensured this item's high price tag. "There are only six in circulation: a 'Zidane', a 'Trezeguet', a 'Desailly', a 'Boghossian' and two 'Guivarc'hs'," Demolis said.
French customs official Jean-Paul Balzamo told the AFP news agency that the poor quality of the sewing had alerted officials to the possibility of it being a forgery.
"A shirt of such value should have been the object of a customs declaration but this was not the case."
According to a report by the BBC, it has been estimated that up to 90% of football shirts on the global markets could be fakes - a testament to the importance of buying through a reputable dealer.
However, with verified provenance and a famous name on the back, game worn shirts can make an excellent alternative investment for collectors and sports fans. Match worn shirts by David Beckham, for instance, can command values of up to £3,000 on the markets depending on their history.
At the time of writing, Demolis has raised the matter with France president Nicolas Sarkozy and is seeking compensation through the courts.
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