Image rights, fast cars and a 'tank': Maradona's death triggers complex inheritance

FILE PHOTO: Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona (R), his daughter Giannina and his ex-wife Claudia Villafane (L) cheer for Boca Juniors during their First Division soccer match against Rosario Central in the Argentine championship in Buenos Aires February 18, 2007. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Diego Maradona's death has triggered an outpouring of grief around the world. Now comes the scramble for a share of the soccer legend's complex financial legacy, ranging from his iconic jerseys to luxury cars, image rights and even an amphibious tank.

Much like during the football idol's life, the inheritance process is likely to be a messy affair between his large family, with eight children from six different partners as heirs to his assets, as well as his intangible heritage.

Maradona, who died on Wednesday at the age of 60 from cardiac arrest, had four children in Argentina, one in Italy from his time at Napoli and three in Cuba when he settled on the island to undergo treatment to recover from his addictions, his lawyer Matías Morla has said.

"In the specific case of Maradona, he is divorced and has eight children, so the estate is divided by eight in an inheritance trial," Buenos Aires-based soccer lawyer Martín Apolo told Reuters. "It will be a complex process."

The process can last 90 days in a normal probate trial, the legal period for the heirs and creditors to present themselves, although Apolo said it could be far longer given the likelihood of "internal disputes" and opportunists seeking a payout.

"In cases of this type, it can be eternal," he said.

The estate of the World Cup champion, who at the time of his death was coach of the Argentine club Gimnasia y Esgrima, comprises properties, smart cars, investments and jewels he was gifted in different countries throughout his career.

Maradona played and coached in Argentina, Spain, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Belarus and Mexico.

There is no established value of the star's fortune. Wealth tracker Celebrity Net Worth estimates his net worth at the time of his death at $500,000, although it said he had earned millions during his career from contracts with the different teams and sponsorship with brands such as Hublot, Puma and Coca-Cola.

Maradona was gifted two luxury cars in Dubai when he worked as Fujairah Football Club's technical director and a HUNTA Overcomer amphibious "tank," a vehicle which can "float on water," during his time as honorary president of Belarus' Dynamo Brest club.

The Argentine playmaker, known as "Dios" for his godlike skills on the soccer pitch and "Pelusa" for his prominent mane of hair, also remains valuable for his image - even after death.

"The most important patrimony here could be the image rights, and also all his shirts," said Apolo. "How much is the one he used in the World Cup final worth? How much could you pay at auction?"

Maradona's family has been through several disputes in recent years, including a trial with his ex-partner Claudia Villafañe for tax evasion, procedural fraud and misappropriation of 458 objects from his past as a soccer player.

His family and children have called for unity in the recent weeks before his death after Maradona underwent brain surgery to remove a blood clot, which he was recovering from.

"We have to be more united than ever, hopefully we will do it once and for all now that he is gone," Walter Machuca, one of Maradona's nephews, told Argentina's TyC Sports.

(Reporting by Ramiro Scandalo; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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