A Super Bowl ring belonging to Green Bay Packers great Fred "Fuzzy" Thurston sold for $50,788 at an auction in Rosemont, Ill., on Thursday night.
The sale was ordered by the U. S. government, which says Thurston owes about $1.7 million in back taxes.
Heritage Auctions said the buyer wishes to remain anonymous. It is not clear what the buyer intends to do with the ring. The ring originally was expected to sell for about $20,000.
"A price realized like this, and with such spirited bidding, just shows how beloved Fuzzy Thurston still is," said Chris Ivy, director of vintage sports memorabilia at Heritage Auctions. "While the circumstances surrounding the auction of this ring are sad ones, we all hope that it works out for Fuzzy and that somehow the ring can make it back to him."
After news of Thurston's tax troubles were made public earlier this year, some Packers fans expressed hope that somebody would buy the ring and give it back to Thurston.
Thurston, 77, was an offensive lineman for the Packers during the team's glory years under coach Vince Lombardi.
The tax fight stems from Thurston's post-Packers days, when he and his business partners opened a chain of restaurants. According to a federal complaint, Thurston and the others withheld federal income taxes from employee salaries but failed to turn all the money over to the Internal Revenue Service.
After a court fight, Thurston was ordered to pay about $190,000 in 1984. With interest, the debt now stands at just over $1.7 million, according to court documents.