Becker's missing trophies still taxing bankruptcy trustees

Boris Becker (AFP)
Boris Becker (AFP)

London - One of the bankruptcy trustees charged with handling the case of six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker has appealed to anyone who might have any of the German's missing trophies to come forward.

Mark Ford, charged with collating and selling Becker's assets, told AFP the ongoing online auction of 82 items, including trophies and photographs belonging to the German, who was declared bankrupt two years ago, was on course to be more successful than the auction last year.

That had to be aborted when Becker claimed diplomatic immunity due to being appointed the Central African Republic's "sporting, cultural and humanitarian attache to the European Union".

Ford said: "It certainly was a very unusual and probably difficult time."

The 51-year-old German, still the youngest at 17 to have won the Wimbledon men's title in 1985, withdrew that claim last December.

Ford was then able to launch the on-line auction again, using auctioneers Wyles Hardy, who have "good credentials in the sporting sector".

While Ford, who equates Becker's case as being as complex as a corporate insolvency, is content both in terms of the bids and that bidders from 30 different nationalities have expressed an interest, he would be happier if all the trophies were accounted for as it would raise more money to pay back the creditors.

"It is bemusing," said Ford, one of three insolvency practitioners at London-based Smith & Williamson.

"We have asked and continued to ask for them.

"We released a joint press statement with Mr Becker last year for them (the people who might have them) to come forward if they have them.

"The nature of trophies is they could well be on display. For instance, the US Open trophy came back from the Hall of Fame.

"They could be on display somewhere in a museum or venue or forgotten and left behind in a private residence somewhere.

"Wherever they are I would love to have them."

Ford said the level of co-operation from Becker's side was improving.

"We are getting there," he said.

Ford, who says Becker's debts could total as much as £50 million, says there are still "some large ones (trophies) out there".  

"As an example, when you win Wimbledon you are presented with three trophies," he said.

"There are quite a few out there including two Aussie Opens and four or five Wimbledon successes outstanding."

One of the more delicate matters relates to a trophy - Ford says it is one of the three from Becker's first Wimbledon title win - that Becker claims to have given his mother. 

"It is difficult to challenge when one person says one thing and somebody else says another and it is not documented," said Ford.

"It is a tricky one and we have agreed to deal with this at a later time.

"Mrs Becker was present when we removed the trophies before.

"That one and one other were claimed to have been gifted. We felt it appropriate at the time to leave them there in good hands having acknowledged we had not necessarily accepted they were gifted."

One of the more striking trophies in the auction is the 'Bambi' - inspired by the 1923 book and then the 1942 Disney film about the deer - a prestigious German media award for outstanding achievement which Becker won in 1985.

Other winners include Pope Francis.  

Ford, who admits it is "fair to say the creditors in this case are more complicated than usual", says if he so wishes Becker can have friends bid for the trophies.   

"Mr Becker has asked on a number of occasions whether he could introduce a party to purchase the items because, perfectly understandably, there is a connection to these items," said Ford.

"We've always been open to the prospect of a sale to someone connected to Mr Becker - not (with) Mr Becker's own money of course --and we've attempted to facilitate that on a number of occasions.

"It hasn't quite ever come off."

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