February 29, 2024

Open Court


Becker claims “diplomatic immunity” in bankruptcy case

You knew, when the embattled Boris Becker announced he had been named German “Attaché for Sport and Cultural Affairs of the Central African Republic” in April, that something was afoot.

Now the other shoe has dropped.

Becker is now attempting to invoke “diplomatic immunity” regarding the bankruptcy proceedings going on against against him in London.

According to the Financial Times, the Guardian and other British media, Becker filed a statement via his lawyer Thursday. In it, he says he is “bound” to declare that immunity.

“A bunch of anonymous and unaccountable bankers and bureaucrats pushed me into a completely unnecessary declaration of bankruptcy, which has inflicted a whole heap of damage on me, both commercially and professionally, and on those close to me,” the statement read. “Once this gravy train for the suits has been stopped in its tracks, my lawyers will turn to the question of compensation. I will be coming after the people who forced this process through to hold them publicly accountable for their actions.”

The Guardian reports that Becker will have an office in the Central African Republic’s Belgian embassy in Brussels, as part of this new gig. 

(As it happens, the Central African Republic’s embassy in Germany, located in Bonn, is “temporarily closed”.)

Just like a military attaché, really

Becker drops most diplomatic-sounding, extremely well-written, statesmanlike nuggets in his statement. They are first comments we’ve seen about this appointment since he announced it nearly two months ago.

“I should add that I am immensely proud of my appointment as the sports and culture attaché for the Central African Republic. Sport is incredibly important in Africa and is fast becoming a universal language, a form of social diplomacy and a leveller between people from vastly different and unequal social backgrounds around the world,” he wrote.

“My diplomatic role in the Central African Republic allows me to give something meaningful back to sports supporters in one of the poorest parts of the world. There is no reason why a role of this kind should be treated any differently to an appointment as a military or a trade attache, which everyone recognizes as attracting diplomatic immunity.”

A Becker lawyer, Oliver Moser, told Der Spiegel that taking up the post had nothing to do with the potential benefits it might have regarding his financial woes.

Boris’s life like a soap opera

It was almost exactly a year ago – June 17, 2017 – that Becker was declared bankrupt in London. The determination was made following his failure to pay a debt going back to 2015.

A month later, reports surfaced that Becker had been involved in some Nigerian oil business that may well have contributed to his financial problems. 

Since then, he has been named head of German men’s tennis.

By October, it was reported that he had taken out a substantial loan – at 25 per cent interest. And that his debt load was significantly larger than had been reported.

Later that month, he accepted an honorary membership into the prestigious Cambridge Union, accompanied by his wife, Lilly.

By February, it was reported that he was now hawking double-paned windows.

In late May, it was announced that Becker and Lilly, his second wife, had split after nine years of marriage.

Auctioning off precious memorabilia

Meanwhile, Open Court received an e-mail last week from the Wyles, Hardy & Co. auction house. The company was acting on behalf of “M. Ford Esq., F. O’Connell Esq & G. Lemon Esq., the Joint Trustees in Bankruptcy.”

The auction, which closes June 28 – just a few days before the Championships, will put up a host of Becker memorabilia. It includes “Watches and Commemorative items together with unique Trophies, Medals and Awards marking the achievements of Mr. Becker’s prolific sporting career.”

The e-mail adds that “it has been our client’s long term view that this extraordinary collection be offered for sale during the Summer months when the world’s focus is on the Queens and Wimbledon tennis tournaments.”

Of course. Timing is everything.

Clothes, shoes, trophies, coins

If you want to take a peek – and maybe help a tennis brother out – there’s a viewing. The items will be available in London next Wednesday at the Knapp Gallery, Regent’s University.

Here’s the link to the online auction.

There are watches (including a Novak Djokovic Seiko model). There also are assorted clothes that had been on display at the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

As well, “three Pewter Commemorative Cups of Conical Form with Relief Decoration depicting Boris Becker and celebrating his Wimbledon Championships.” A total of 81 lots, ranging from priceless memories to assorted Becker tchotchkes. 

There’s even a scuzzy-looking pair of tennis shoes, autographed of course.

It has to be a shock to the system when the memories of all you’ve accomplished in your life are just laid out there, lot by lot, for people to bid on.

Despite the fact that he reportedly owes a ton of people a ton of money, you have to feel some sympathy for the former German star. It appears he’s not been a bad guy. More than anything, he comes off as gullible and not too smart.

And through it all, he has continued his television work, walking around tennis tournaments holding his head up high. That can’t be easy to do, when you know that most who recognize you are are of what’s happening in your life.

And as Wimbledon approaches once again, he’ll be front-and-centre at the Grand Slam he first won as a teenager. And the British tabloids will be busy.

Life sure comes at some people hard.

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