Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Christmas auction sees George Best boot, drugs haul tug and £40k Rolex go under the hammer

By Sophie Inge

If you're searching for that Christmas gift with a difference - then look no further.

George Best memorabilia and a tug boat that featured in a massive drugs haul are among the items set to go under the hammer in Belfast this week.

As you may already have guessed, this is not your average auction. Often bought with ill-gotten gains, the items were seized by police forces across the UK and Ireland.

Any money made from their sale will go straight back into the public purse.

Christmas shoppers searching for a bargain will find that none of the items have a reserve - meaning that even the tug boat could fetch well below its market value.

The haul, which will go under the hammer on Wednesday at Wilsons Auctions, includes a range of football, boxing and golfing memorabilia as well as jewellery pieces worth £350,000.

"Traditionally with these auctions, it's cars and fashion items," said Wilsons' group asset recovery manager, Aidan Larkin.

"This is a nice change because it includes sports memorabilia - particularly with the anniversary of George Best's death this month."

Best fans will be able to bid for two signed Manchester United photos of the Belfast hero, as well as a signed football boot.

Signed boots from the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Brazil's Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham are also up for grabs.

Plus there's a shirt from the Liverpool 1977 European Cup winners, signed by Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush, and for those nostalgic for an England World Cup win, there's even a seat-back from the 1966 World Cup at Wembley and a signed picture of Geoff Hurst.

For boxing fans, there's a cast of Muhammad Ali's hand, signed boxing gloves from Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson and Prince Naseem Hamed, and a boxing belt from Jake LaMotta. A signed Tiger Woods putter is also among the highlights.

"Belfast, of course, is going through a nice renaissance in boxing with Carl Frampton's success, so a lot of people want to get their hands on these," said Mr Larkin. "And Jake LaMotta is one of the most famous boxers of all time."

Notably, the auction will include the MV Hamal, a commercial tug boat which earlier this year was at the centre of the biggest drug haul in UK waters, when an estimated £512m worth of cocaine was found on board.

Bidders can also choose from a large range of diamond rings, pendants, bracelets and earrings, plus more than a dozen Rolex watches, including a Rolex Tridor with 18ct yellow gold case and 18ct yellow, rose and white gold bracelet worth £40,000.

Other items include Audi and BMW cars, a signed Nelson Mandela autobiography, 63 small black diamond dice and several motorbikes. Mr Larkin said: "We're very excited to be hosting our next Unreserved Government Prestige & Property Auction in our Belfast branch. This really is an opportunity to purchase some high-quality goods for an affordable price, in time for Christmas."

For details or to register by midday on Tuesday, go to

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