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Vanessa Emilien cherishes Pelé’s coco-de-mer bought in auction   |01 February 2023

Vanessa Emilien cherishes Pelé’s coco-de-mer bought in auction   

Vanessa Emilien owner of the coco-de-mer sold by Pelé in an auction in 2016

Many would have liked to possess at least a souvenir that belonged to Pele byname of Edson Arantes do Nascimento De Nascimento, regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and labelled "the greatest" by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association.

Among the most successful and popular sports figures of the 20th century, Pelé died on December 29, 2022 and the next day Vanessa Emilien, who is lucky to possess a souvenir that initially belonged to the icon, flew to Seychelles on holiday from the United Kingdom.

Ms Emilien was born in England of Seychellois parents Carl Emilien who married Georgette Emilien née Emmanuel.

When Pelé visited Seychelles in 1979 ‒ two years after he had retired from the game ‒ a Pelé Cup was organised between on February 19 between Rovers and a selection of players from the different local sides. The match played at Stad Popiler ended in a 1-1 draw.

Pelé gave the kick-off to the match refereed by Sophus Larsen assisted by Georges Bibi and Ferley Etienne.

At the end of the game, Pelé was presented with a real coco-de-mer measuring 15 x 13 x 9.5 inches.

In 2016, the fabled Brazilian No.10 and three-time World Cup winner auctioned off his entire collection of awards and memorabilia accumulated over six decades in the game.

The auction was handled by Beverly Hills-based Julien’s Auctions and took place in London over three days with more than 2,000 items going under the hammer, covering the years from when Pelé turned professional at 15 with Santos FC in 1956 to being named as the club’s lifetime global ambassador in 2014.

“I went in to have a look and saw a photo album of his (Pelé’s) trip to Seychelles. From the pictures it seemed he had a really good time in Seychelles,” Ms Emilien told Sports NATION.

She added: “Then I saw the coco-de-mer and I told myself, ‘the only people who should own it should be a Seychellois. There were seven other bidders and only two of us were left in the race. I finally got it for a high four figures in pounds.

“I believe Pelé wanted to see these items in the hands of people who are going to cherish them and love them and appreciate them for many, many years to come. The coco-de-mer is really special to me.”

The three-day sale of memorabilia belonging to world football icon Pele were sold for the princely total of £3.4 million (US $5million, 4.4 million euros).

Pelé scored 1,281 goals in 1,363 matches, appeared 91 times for Brazil between 1957 and 1971 and played his club football for Brazil's FC Santos as well as the New York Cosmo

Ms Emilien added that her dad, Carl Emilien, who left Seychelles 54 years ago to settle in England, will build a nice display case for the coco-de-mer.

She noted that received a call from one of the biggest international auction houses, Sotheby's Auction House, saying a collector wanted to buy the coco-de-mer.

“I declined the offer. I love the coco-de-mer too much. In fact, I had never own my own coco-de-mer,” said Ms Emilien who owns her modelling and fashion agency.

She has worked with famous actors like Will Smith and Idris Elba, and seven years ago she was accompanied to Seychelles on vacation by the mother of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air series which stars Will Smith as a fictionalised version of himself, a street-smart teenager born and raised in West Philadelphia who is sent to move in with his wealthy uncle and aunt in Bel Air, where his lifestyle often clashes with that of his upper-class relatives.


Gerard Govinden


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