Boris Becker
Three-times Wimbledon champion Boris Becker. Auctioneer Wyles Hardy had been instructed to sell items from his collection and is offering them in an 81-lot timed auction. Image: Ipernity via Wikimedia Commons

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Becker was declared bankrupt in the UK last year and, since then, creditors have been seeking to take hold of the three-time Wimbledon champion’s assets. An auction of 81 lots went online earlier this month which included objects ranging from medals, awards, trophies, rackets, watches and photographs, and bidding was due to close today.

Becker is being pursued over an undisclosed amount of money owed to private bank Arbuthnot Latham & Co and group of bankruptcy trustees were appointed to deal with the estate.

The trustees instructed business asset valuer and auctioneer Wyles Hardy & Co to sell the collection and bids had already come in for items such as a full-size silver replica of the US Open trophy by Tiffany & Co which Becker won in 1989. A £33,100 bid had been placed at the time of the auction being postponed.

replica of the US Open trophy

A full-size silver replica of the US Open trophy by Tiffany & Co. 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.

“Uncertainty caused by speculation”

Becker’s lawyers claimed his appointment as a diplomat by the Central African Republic (CAR) afforded him protection from any legal claims. They also applied for an injunction to block a sale that they claimed would have stripped their client of his “personal dignity”, describing the timing of the sale which coincides with Becker appearing on the BBC’s Wimbledon coverage as a “deliberate decision made to humiliate him”.

Although the validity of Becker's diplomatic status remains unclear, the question over the title of the objects appears to have led to the postponement of the sale.

The trustees said the decision to suspend the auction “had not been taken lightly” but it was taken due to “concerns that the potential realisations from the auction may be compromised by the uncertainty caused by speculation”.

Boris Becker’s collection

A selection of items from Boris Becker’s collection. The sale of the collection has now been postponed.

Mark Ford, joint trustee to the estate of Boris Becker, said: “Having discussed the forthcoming auction with our agents, we believe that recent events may have deflated potential realisations of the memorabilia, as bidders experience uncertainty resulting from Mr Becker’s newly made claims.

“This is notwithstanding the fact that the auction had attracted very substantial bids - with a day still to run our experience is that, absent Mr Becker's intervention, last minute bids would have significantly increased the return for the bankruptcy estate. 

“As officers of the court we look to obtain the best possible return for creditors and so yesterday we accordingly agreed to the temporary adjournment of the auction so that Mr Becker’s claims may be dealt with before the court."

The trustees have said that as the bankruptcy proceedings continue they will seek compensation for the cost of having to subsequently re-run the auction.