“I’ve met Cher, Barbara Streisand, Lady Gaga, but there’s something special about meeting Pelé."
Kiltoom native Martin Nolan, co-partner in the auction house to the stars, Julien’s Auctions in LA, has organised the sale of World Cup star Pelé’s personal possessions.
Among them are Pelé’s three World Cup winning medals and his replica of the Jules Rimet trophy, gifted to him for winning three World Cups with Brazil in 1958, '62 and '70.
"When I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, me and my three brothers, we all wanted to be Pelé. My late father captained Athlone Town and played for Blackrock College. I’m sure he would be very proud.”
An exhibition of the above just ended in the Newbridge Silverware Museum of Style Icons in Kildare and is now moving to London and New York.
“I spent a day with Pelé in New York, he is a very decent man. He grew up in very poor circumstances. He’s 75 and when you ask him questions about his childhood he lights up the same way he does when he’s telling you about his soccer career.
"He told me his mother didn’t want him playing soccer because she thought he couldn’t make any money. People gave him awards down throughout the years, when he was visiting countries, and he’s as proud of them as he is of his world cup medals."
Auction house to the stars
"It’s a lot of fun, it’s a lot of work, every project is different,” says Martin of Julien's Auctions.
Martin first travelled to the States on a Donnelly Visa back in 1989. He first worked as a doorman at New York’s Hilton Hotel, where he met the likes of Silvester Stillone, Oprah Winfrey, and Margaret Tatcher to name but a few. He then trained as a stockbroker before becoming co-partner in Julien's Auctions.
"We have 16 full-time staff and 10 part-time employees. I wear many hats, usually I’m wearing the finance hat because that’s my background, but I get to meet the clients, open exhibitions.
“I get to travel all over the world but I get home every month. My mother, Kitty is living in Kiltoom, as are my sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews. They’re all there so I love coming home."
- A longer version of this interview can be found in the Westmeath Independent.