A court on Friday ruled in favour of tennis star Yannick Noah over the sale in a charity auction of a tennis racquet he said was used in his 1983 French Open victory.
“The court accepted our argument. This action, more than 30 years after the sale, was obviously too late,” Noah’s lawyer William Bourdon told AFP.
In 1986, during the auction organised by a French television station, Noah sold the racquet, which he said he used in his Roland Garros final victory over Sweden’s Mats Wilander three years earlier.
A tennis fan named Pierre R., who passed away in November 2020, purchased it for 12 000 French francs (nearly 2 000 euros), based on Noah’s handwritten certificate of authenticity.
In 2016, when the buyer decided to sell the Coq Sportif racquet, he was told by a specialist it had never been used by the tennis player during that edition of Roland Garros.
The family took legal action demanding €35 000 ($38 000) compensation.
On Friday, a court in Versailles ruled the legal action “inadmissible” being “prescribed”, the sale having taken place 33 years before the complaint was lodged.
The case resembles the current row over the authenticity of football legend Diego Maradona’s shirt worn in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final against England.
Maradona’s eldest daughter claims that the Argentina shirt expected to sell for several million dollars when it is sold at auction this month is not the one her late father wore when he scored the infamous “Hand of God” goal against the English.
Dalma Maradona said the shirt due to go under the hammer was actually the one worn by her father during the goalless first half of the game.
Steve Hodge, the former England player who says Maradona swapped shirts with him at the end of the game in Mexico City, is selling the shirt, which is set to fetch more than £4 million ($5.2 million).
Auctioneers Sotheby’s strongly refuted Dalma Maradona’s claims on Thursday, saying an external company had provided a “conclusive photomatch” that proved it was authentic.