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Why the sale of Bradman's first baggy green has caught the eye of fraud victims

Sir Donald Bradman's first baggy green cap will be auctioned online over the next seven days.

Sales of Bradman memorabilia usually catch the eye of cricket tragics — but one of the batting legend's most significant former possessions is currently generating interest in unusual quarters.

Sir Donald Bradman's first baggy green cap, which he donned as a Test debutant in 1928, will on Thursday go up for auction online and is tipped to fetch as much as $2 million.

The week-long auction will be followed closely by creditors of former accountant and convicted fraudster Peter Dunham, who was gifted the cap when he was a young neighbour of Bradman's but is currently in prison.

"He put the hat on my head. I said, 'That looks good', and he said, 'It looks very good, it's yours', and I've had it ever since," Dunham said in a 2003 interview.

"That it was his first cap — I got a shock. I certainly got a shock about that. I knew it was a baggy green and I knew it was Sir Donald's, but to be his first cap was a bit astounding."

Earlier this year, Dunham was sentenced to at least four and a half years in jail for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from clients.

Among his victims were Anne and Royce Margrie, whose lives were thrown into turmoil when they were forced to sell their Victor Harbor home because of Dunham's deceptions.

"We've always known he had the baggy green — he had this beautiful portrait of Don Bradman in his office. We knew that they were neighbours," Ms Margrie said.

"It's always been in our thoughts as to who owns it, who can sell it and who gets what. We don't know.

"The cap has been in trust ever since we've known him, on display. You used to be able to go and see it at the [State Library's] Bradman museum, which we did once. As far as we know, that's all he's got to sell."

But Ms Margrie said she was not optimistic about her chances of recouping any funds from the cap.

"There'd be other people in line before us," she said.

Nick Cooper from Oracle Insolvency Services said about 40 creditors are owed around $7 million in total.

While the cap alone is unlikely to attract anywhere near that amount, Dunham's victims will be watching the sale with interest.

"We've certainly got an expectation that they will see something — exactly how much we can't say but we are hopeful," he said.

"The first payment out is to the Government — the Government take a 7 per cent levy on assets recovered in bankruptcy.

"From there, the cost of the bankruptcy gets paid and after there would be a distribution to the creditors. It's probably likely a proportionate share will be paid to them."

He said creditors would get a "reasonable amount" from the sale — but not necessarily soon.

"It's possible there could be some delays, there are some matters that are still in court at the moment, so they need to be resolved before the estate can be finally wrapped up," he said.

Cap can't leave Australia

Bradman received his first baggy green well before the modern tradition of Test cricketers retaining a single cap throughout their careers was established.

He made his Test debut against England in Brisbane in 1928, scoring 18 and 1 — a return that would see him dropped for the only time in his career, before he was selected again two matches later and rewarded selectors with a maiden century.

Gavin Dempsey from auction house Pickles said there had been "phenomenal interest" in the cap from within Australia and around the world — including South Africa, England, India and even France.

He said it was hard to tell how much the cap would sell for, although the last one that went to auction sold for $425,000 in 2003.

"It's very hard to put a figure on something that's quite so iconic but, just speaking to some people in the industry, an estimate of between $1 million to maybe $2 million [seems reasonable]," he said.

"Some people have thrown out lower numbers, some people have thrown out much higher numbers so it will be very interesting to see where the bidding finishes."

Mr Dempsey said the cap could not leave Australia because it was covered by the federal Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act.

"There's been some quite wealthy Australians reaching out and requesting further insight," he said.

"The baggy green cannot leave Australian shores … the expectation would be that [an overseas buyer would] have to loan it into one of the collections, which would be a fantastic outcome.

"I know the State Library and the Bradman Collection here and of course the collection in Bowral would be quite happy to have it back in their possession but that'll come down to the individual buyer."

The current record price for a baggy green is just over $1 million, for Shane Warne's Test cap.

Sports memorabilia expert Tom Thompson said the Bradman cap could struggle to fetch that amount.

"I think it is better than most of his caps because it is his first," he told ABC Radio Adelaide.

"It is not as important as the 1930 cap or a 1948 cap … I would say it's worth all of $300,000."

He said Bradman had 13 baggy green caps during his career and this one was worn for four Tests.

Mr Thompson said it was given to Dunham "as a sort of mentoring talisman" when Bradman was friends with Dunham's mother, who died in 1964.

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