Fate of $1m jersey from 'hockey's greatest moment' hangs in limbo

Never underestimate the competitive nature of sports memorabilia collectors - particularly when those collectors are ice hockey fans...

The value of legendary hockey left-winger Paul Henderson's iconic 1972 white and red jersey shot past $1m when it was auctioned by Classic Auctions in Montreal, yesterday (June 22).

Henderson wore the jersey when he scored his famous series-winning goal that year - referred to by some fans as "the greatest sporting moment in history". It has been owned by a private collector since 2006.

According to local newspaper, the Ottawa Citizen, the priced surged from just under $500,000 to $1,067,538 in an hour, between 9pm and 10pm.

But there was more at stake than simply owning a historic collectible - the auction followed a weeks-long campaign to repatriate the 38-year-old sweater which generated a major buzz across Canada.

Paul Henderson's iconic 1972 white and red jersey

Among the bidders was Jim Pattison, head of the leading British Columbia car retailer Jim Pattison Auto Group. He had vowed to put the jersey in Canada's Sports Hall of Fame should he win.

But excitement turned to disappointment as Jim Pattison pulled out when bidding hit the million-dollar mark.

The jersey then fell under Classic Auctions' "10 minute rule" - meaning that it, along with hundreds of other lots, remains for sale until bidding on all the auction's items has halted for 10 minutes.

As a result, the shirt's fate now hangs in the balance, while bidders await the final verdict.

Henderson himself, now aged 67, is said to be especially disappointed; while the intense desire among collectors, museums and other bodies to own the sweater is only too evident.  

Meanwhile, Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore has offered federal financial support to any buyer willing to donate the jersey to a public museum.

All values are shown in Canadian dollars.


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