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Ball boy who kept Serena Williams' broken U.S. Open racket sold it for $500—now it could go at auction for $50,000

Naomi Osaka of Japan after winning the Women's Singles finals match alongside runner up Serena Williams on September 8, 2018
Julian Finney | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

At the now infamous 2018 US Open finals, Serena Williams lost to Naomi Osaka after receiving two code violations, one for getting coaching and another for smashing her racket. Williams was fined $17,000 for the violations.

That broken racket is now up for auction at Goldin Auctions. Bidding starts at $2,000, and it will likely sell for between $25,000 and $50,000, Ken Goldin, the founder of Goldin Auctions told the New York Times.

But before it was up for auction, the broken racket was in the closet of a 22-year-old ball boy who was working the 2018 match, the New York Times reports. Justin Arrington-Holmes, a pre-med student at Boston College, asked Williams to take a photo after the match, and the tennis champ gave him the racket to keep.

Serena Williams walks off after smashing her racket during her Women's Singles finals match against Naomi Osaka.
Michael Owens | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

A friend convinced Holmes to sell the racket to make some money, and Brigandi Coins and Collectibles bought the broken racket for just $500, the New York Times reports. (The racket, a Wilson Blade SW 104, retails for just $249.00.) Holmes told the New York Times that he didn't realize how much the racket would be worth.

"Looking back I wish I'd had someone help me with the process," he told the New York Times. "I was not familiar with how any of this works. I just wanted to get rid of it."

According to eBay's sports memorabilia selling guide, tennis fans tend to look for original and reproduced memorabilia from players such as Venus and Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati, Steffi Graf, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. Souvenirs from major events such as the US Open, French Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon Championships also do well.

As far as other iconic rackets sold at auction go, in 2017, the tennis racket used by Billie Jean King against Bobby Riggs in 1973 (aka "The Battle of the Sexes") went for $125,000. A portion of the proceeds went to the Women's Sports Foundation, an organization that helps young girls stay in sports.

To sell his Williams' racket, Holmes had to verify its authenticity to Brigandi Coins and Collectibles by providing a letter about the incident, he told the New York Times. Brigandi Coins and Collectibles then sold it to another buyer but declined to tell CNBC Make It to whom of for how much it was sold. 

For the current sale, Goldin Auctions used photo matching technology to confirm that the shape of the break in the racket matched the one in photos from the match.

The current seller of the racket is anonymous, and Holmes won't make any money off the sale since he forfeited his rights.

"They could give a few thousand to a charity or a place like Harlem Junior Tennis," Holmes told the New York Times. Harlem Junior Tennis is a nonprofit that provides tennis programs for kids and teens in high-risk, low-income neighborhoods.

Speaking about the seller, Holmes said: "I just hope they are looking out for the greater good."

The auction closes on Dec. 7.

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