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Olympics: Snell singlet sale unravels in New Zealand

Thursday, 30 June 2016

A museum in New Zealand that was planning to buy the singlet athletics legend Peter Snell wore when he won two gold medals at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics is now questioning the authenticity of the garment
A museum in New Zealand that was planning to buy the singlet athletics legend Peter Snell wore when he won two gold medals at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics is now questioning the authenticity of the garment

New Zealand’s national museum on Thursday said plans to buy athletics legend Peter Snell’s old vest for NZ$140,000 ($100,000) had unravelled after the garment failed its experts’ sniff test.

The Te Papa museum bid the huge price at auction last week, thinking it was buying the black singlet Snell wore when he won two gold medals at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

But it said closer examination raised doubts about the garment, which was stained, slightly torn and supposedly still bore the number 466 bib Snell wore in Japan.

“Te Papa has been unable to satisfy itself as to the authenticity of the singlet, and it has been agreed by the parties not to proceed with the sale,” the museum said in a statement.

It added: “We believe the item was offered for sale in good faith, but our inquiries have shown that the singlet is not the one worn by Peter Snell at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.”

Museum spokeswoman Kate Camp said experts raised concerns after closely examining the item.

“The fabric of the singlet is not what we would expect to see in a singlet from the Tokyo Olympics,”she told Radio New Zealand.

Reports said that genuine garments from the Tokyo Games were made of cotton, but the one offered for sale appeared to be nylon or another synthetic fabric.

While the seller has never been publicly identified, Snell himself had no vested interest in the auction as he gave the original singlet to charity decades ago.

Earlier this month, he scoffed at “absolutely ridiculous” pre-auction estimates it would fetch NZ$50,000, saying he would only be prepared to pay a few hundred dollars.

But he said Thursday that the “stunning” price offered by the museum showed it would be worthwhile for someone to create a fake.

“My reaction is that someone’s pulled something pretty elaborate maybe,” the former runner, now resident in the United States, told TV3. “I’m sure they’ve done their investigations.”

Te Papa chief executive Rick Ellis described the Auckland auction house Cordy’s, which handled the sale and was not immediately available for comment, as reputable.

“I know they are as saddened as we are at this outcome,” he said.

Te Papa said an independent expert would examine the bidding and acquisition process.

Snell won the 800m and 1500m in Tokyo, only the second man to claim the double at the same Games.

He also won the 800m in Rome four years earlier and held numerous middle-distance world records during a glittering career that saw him named New Zealand’s athlete of the century in 2000.

Source by: AFP

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