When bankruptcy trustees moved in to seize Boris Becker’s assets, there were three glaring gaps in his trophy cabinet. The most valuable trophies of all - awarded for his Wimbledon victories in 1985, 1986 and 1989 - were mysteriously absent.
Becker explained that he was unable to recollect where they were. Several months on, the trustees have made a breakthrough.
One of the trophies has been discovered in the care of Becker’s mother, Elvira, who says it was a “gift” from her son.
Administrators can attempt to claw back assets that they believe were deliberately put beyond the reach of creditors.
But in this case they decided not to investigate further, given Mrs Becker's age, and the trophy - awarded for Becker's straight-sets victory over Ivan Lendl in the 1986 Wimbledon final - remains for the time being in the family home in Heidelberg, Germany.
Mark Ford, director of Smith & Williamson, which is handling the bankruptcy, said his team had visited the German property to look for items they could auction.
The house belongs to Becker but he has granted his mother a life tenancy.
“After some careful discussion and considerate negotiation, because his mother is of a mature age and we had to do it sympathetically, our agents went out there, met with her, made sure she had a representative and collected [some] items,” Mr Ford said.
“There was one item that Mrs Becker claimed had been given and gifted to her so, rather than risking distress, we have allowed that to stay in Germany and reserved our position on it. That was one of the Wimbledon trophies.”
The whereabouts of the other two trophies, from 1985 and 1989, remain unknown. Mr Ford said he hoped Mr Becker’s memory would improve.
“Two are still missing. They’re small trophies, it’s a big world, and Mr Becker has led an international lifestyle therefore it’s not easy,” he said.
“There are a lot of trophies so it’s possible one might forget where a couple of them are, but these are perhaps the highest value ones and it’s particularly unfortunate that he can’t remember where they are.”
Mr Ford said it was difficult to put an estimate on a Wimbledon trophy.
“They are so rarely in the public domain. What I’d like to see for them is £100,000 apiece but you never know until you test the market,” he said.
Becker’s Australian Open trophies are also missing.
It comes as Becker insisted he has a genuine diplomatic passport issued by the Central African Republic which his lawyers argue means he is immune from bankruptcy proceedings in London.
In a pre-recorded interview for BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Becker said: "I am very happy, any time soon, to visit Bangui, the capital, and to speak to the people personally about how we can move forward and how we can resolve this misunderstanding and this confusion."
Memorabilia from Becker’s career is being auctioned online by Wyles Hardy & Co, the British company that also sold off the possessions of disgraced financier Bernie Madoff.
Some of the items were taken from Becker’s house in Heidelberg. Others came from the BBC pundit’s rented home in Wimbledon, south-west London, including four wristwatches.
At the High Court last week, a judge suspended the discharge of Becker’s bankruptcy in order to grant the trustees further time to search for assets.
Becker and the trustees issued an agreed statement in January appealing for help to track down the missing trophies.
Mr Ford said yesterday: “I don’t really have any strong suspicion as to exactly where they are. We’ve looked around Mr Becker’s house with his permission, I’m satisfied that unless he’s got a secret compartment somewhere they’re not there.
“No harm no foul - if someone comes forward tomorrow and says, 'Gosh, I didn’t see the earlier appeal but actually he was on holiday here once and he left them here,’ I would be supremely grateful for someone to come forward with that information.”
Becker declined to comment.