All Blacks jersey treasured by Robin Williams up for auction

They made an odd couple. One, a pint-sized giant of Hollywood, and the other, a global rugby megastar.

But when legendary funnyman Robin Williams and All Black Jonah Lomu met during a 1998 publicity stunt, they immediately hit it off.

Now, a striking memento of that lifelong friendship, treasured by the late comedian and star of hit movies Mrs Doubtfire and Dead Poets Society, is going under the hammer in New York.

An All Blacks rugby jersey signed by the New Zealand national team, including Lomu, was gifted to Williams in February 1998.


It forms part of , a remarkable Sotheby‘s auction that includes autographed scripts, film props, street art by Banksy, Tour de France memorabilia and sculptures.

Proceeds from the October 4 sale of the All Blacks jersey, which has a conservative estimate of US$300-$500 ($450-$760), will go to the Muhammad Ali Foundation.

Williams and Lomu met at San Francisco‘s Fairmont Hotel in 1998 in a publicity stunt organised by the New Zealand Rugby Union.

Jonah Lomu. Photo / Brett Phibbs facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit

At the time Williams was starring in What Dreams May Come, which was top of the box office, and Lomu was rugby‘s biggest star.

The 196cm Lomu hoisted diminutive Williams onto his broad shoulders, with the actor laughing: “Put me down, Kong!”

The scheduled 30-minute meeting lasted more than two hours.

“The two became fast friends, and were known to have exchanged gifts with one another over the course of their friendship,” the Sotheby catalogue notes say.

Williams was a passionate All Blacks fan and often wore a cap given to him by Lomu on one of his many visits to New Zealand.

“He gave me a couple of All Black caps and I wear them around America,” he said in 1999. “People say, ‘What‘s that team, brother?‘ and I say, ‘The All Blacks,‘ and they go, ‘Okay, that‘s cool‘.”

The jersey which is going under the hammer in New York. Photo / Supplied facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit

The US actor saw in the Millennium in New Zealand during a fly-fishing and mountain-biking holiday with his family and donated profits from a comedy show to help Cantabrians suffering from the September 2010 magnitude-7.1 earthquake.

One of Lomu‘s most cherished gifts was a script from Williams‘ fantasy adventure blockbuster movie Jumanji.

“I thought you had signed me a copy of the book Jumanji but when I opened it up it was the script of your entire movie. I will always treasure that my friend and will show it to my boys too,” Lomu wrote in an open letter after 63-year-old Williams took his own life in August 2014.

Lomu wrote it “was an honour and privilege” to have known Williams.

“You made me laugh even when you weren‘t even trying too, you were a warm, caring man and funny as hell! Our thoughts are with your friends and family at this time and there is a world of us that will miss you my friend. Till we meet again for more laughs.”

Lomu died unexpectedly just a year after Williams, on November 18, 2015 from a heart attack linked to his kidney disease.