London - Boris Becker won six Grand Slams during a
glittering career but even those treasured trophies are fair game as insolvency
practitioners responsible for handling his bankruptcy try to track them down to
pay his creditors.
The German took the tennis world by storm when as a
red-headed 17-year-old he became the then youngest-ever men's Grand Slam
champion at Wimbledon in 1985, defending his trophy the following year.
Nicknamed "Boom Boom" Becker early in his career,
he went on to win a further four majors and 49 singles titles in all, amassing
$25 million in prize money and was selected to enter the International Tennis
Hall of Fame in 2003.
But the 50-year-old's business career has been less
successful and last year he suffered the ignominy of being declared bankrupt by
a London court.
Now, in an unusual twist, Becker is pleading for help to
track down five missing Grand Slam trophies - including all three of his
Wimbledon trophies - plus others, with the intention that they will be sold to
pay his creditors.
Mark Ford, one of three insolvency practitioners at
London-based Smith & Williamson, charged with collating Becker's assets and
selling them, said that Becker's case is complex, even after 20 years of
dealing with corporate and personal insolvency.
"We are pursuing lines of inquiry into Germany,
Switzerland, Spain, Guernsey, the United States, Australia - for the recovery
of trophies and other assets - and Jersey. That is genuinely demonstrative of
an international bankruptcy.
"We have spoken to close to 20 former advisors to Mr
Becker and written to more than a dozen banks. There is plenty going on."
Becker, who enjoyed a successful spell from 2014 until 2016
as coach of former world number one Novak Djokovic, during which the Serbian won
six Grand Slam titles, is under pressure to find the trophies even though he
says he does not know where they are.
"Mr Becker has, he claims, gifted only one trophy to
his mother," said Ford. "If he has gifted a trophy then that is
something we would need to explore through discussion, and investigation, as
that presents a difficult problem because there is no paperwork.
"All the trophies, medals and valuables will need to be
given to me so that they can be sold to pay some money back to his
"Typically these trophies are lent to institutions (the
US Hall of Fame has several of Becker's) - that is less tricky," said
Ford. "There is no emotion in play... they understand they had the
trophies on loan from Mr Becker before he was bankrupt and that loan no longer
"My role is different from the official receiver who
upholds the public interest with respect to a bankrupt's conduct. My role is to
take a commercial view and realise the value of assets and sell them for the
benefit of all of his creditors."
Becker will have to tighten the purse strings but Ford
admits his case is different from others.
"It is incumbent on me as a trustee in bankruptcy to
analyse his income and expenditure," said Ford.
"In this case it is probably more complex than most
others. The law is, if the bankrupt's monthly surplus is more than $28 it falls
to me to agree with the bankrupt to pay the surplus as a trustee for benefit of
"Clearly, everyone would expect there to be a
substantial surplus in this case. That applies to anyone be it a butcher or a
baker if the surplus is more than 20.
"There is some commercial flexibility for me as a
trustee because Mr Becker has a different job to most of us and he needs to be
out and about and be seen to bolster his personal brand. This should allow him
to win work and generate a positive outcome for his creditors.
"I am having good discussions with Mr Becker and his
advisors about what his surplus genuinely is. This has been progressing
relatively slowly as Becker has to be seen to maintain his contracts.
However, there has to be a balance in all things."
Anyone with information about missing trophies or other
memorabilia is encouraged to contact the joint trustees via email at