MOB boss Daniel Kinahan showed his cuddly side — as he forked out $140,000 for a Champions League final matchball in aid of snow leopards.
The cocaine baron won an auction for the Virgil van Dijk-signed ball used in the 2019 final, won by his beloved Liverpool.
Kinahan, 43, splashed out while attending the gala dinner in the Kazakhstan city of Astana along with boxing promoter Bob Arum.
The images were taken in July 2019, but have only emerged on social media now.
In them, the MC for the evening, Swiss celebrity auctioneer Simon de Pure — known as ‘the Mick Jagger of auctions’ — starts the bidding on the ball at €20,000.
It quickly rises to €30,000 and then €35,000, before the numerous super-rich oligarchs present are all outbid by Kinahan.
Next, the tuxedo-clad inner-city Dub is shown on a big screen bashfully grinning alongside MTK’s American president Bob Yalen.
De Pure, who does not know the drug baron, jokes “you’ve showed us you’ve got massive balls” as he playfully brings down the hammer on Kinahan’s table and announces: “Sold! Thank you, sir.”
The price is believed to be the largest ever amount paid out for a Champions League final ball, but was not even the biggest contribution on the evening.
That was made by another guest, who shelled out €450,000 for a painting of a snow leopard done by Peaky Blinders actor Adrien Brody.
Brody and Bob Arum were among those who addressed the well-heeled crowd.
No expense was spared for the Snow Leopard Foundation Gala at the Astana Arena, where Ireland had faced off against Kazakhstan in 2012.
Pics posted on social media showed the five course menu, provided by the local Ritz Carlton hotel.
Guests feasted on starters such as teriyaki eggplant and miso-marinated beef, followed by confit of chicken leg in truffle oil, baked spinach and ricotta canneloni and a Kazakh rice dish called plov.
The fourth course was the enigmatically-titled meat surprise, while desserts included traditional sweets like tchak tchak, khovorost and zhent.
Kinahan’s winning matchball purchase is in keeping with those of other cartel members, who have splashed out big money on sports memorabilia.
When gardai raided cartel lieutenant Liam Byrne’s fortified pad in Crumlin, they discovered signed Liverpool shirts from Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez among some of the items on show.
As well as feeding their massive egos, the memorabilia is considered a solid financial investment, as its value tends to increase with the passing of the years.
Byrne, himself a diehard Liverpool fan, had also travelled to the 2018 Champions League final in Kiev, which his side lost 3–1 to Real Madrid.
The trip to Kazakhstan is one of the few times Kinahan has appeared publicly outside his Dubai bolthole, where he is reported to be shielded by former special forces bodyguards.
Arum has told the Irish Sun that the Snow Leopard Gala was one of two occasions he had met Kinahan in person, the other being during a trip to Dubai.
Numerous images of Kinahan meeting with other figures connecting to boxing in the emirate have appeared on social media.
Gardai are aware that the mob boss and his younger brother Christopher Jr had been travelling across Europe on false passports following the outbreak of the Kinahan-Hutch feud.
SNOW LEOPARD GALA
However, they are thought to have stopped this after Christopher was caught with fake documents in Germany but let off with a warning.
The Snow Leopard Gala event had been organised and addressed by Kazakh businessman Nurali Aliyev, who was himself the subject of an investigation by Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) last year.
Aliyev, a grandson of former Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev, had been taken to the High Court in London in an attempt to force him and his mother to explain their ownership of £80m worth of property in the city.
The NCA was seeking to impose an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) on the pair, claiming the three houses had been purchased by Aliyev’s father Rakhat.
Rakhat Aliyev, the head of Kazakhstan’s tax agency, had died in an Austrian prison in 2015 while awaiting charges relating to the murder of two bankers.
However, the High Court disagreed with the NCA and Mrs Justice Lang overturned all three unexplained wealth orderss, ruling “the NCA’s assumption” that Rakhat Aliyev was the source of the funds was unreliable.
She found there was “cogent evidence” the properties had been funded by Ms Nazarbayeva and her son.
Nurali Aliyev said afterwards: “The court’s powerful judgment demonstrates the NCA obtained the orders on an inaccurate basis as part of a flawed investigation which was entirely without merit.”
He accused the NCA of pursuing “a groundless, vicious legal action”.
Meanwhile, Kinahan continues to insist he has “stepped back” from any involvement in boxing, including in the €400m Tyson Fury-Anthony Joshua heavyweight fight he was once hailed by Fury for setting up.
Last month, a court in Amsterdam heard the Dubliner had appeared in a video found on a seized mobile phone alongside three other major drug barons.
Owen Conlon, The Irish Sun