The controversial Nicky Winmar jumper, worn when he made his anti-racism gesture during an AFL match in 1993, has been acquired by Museum Victoria for $100,000.
The museum bought the item from vendor Tim O'Brien, a former basketballer who became friends with Mr Winmar and swapped jumpers with him as a sporting gesture in 1994.
Mr O'Brien tried to sell the jumper for between $100,000 and $200,000 at a Sotheby's Australia decorative arts sale in April, but it was passed in for $95,000.
Prior to the sale, questions were raised about the authenticity of the item, including the legality of affidavits that the vendor had provided. Mr Winmar's former manager Scott Casey also doubted that the article was genuine.
Museum Victoria chief executive Patrick Greene said the institution had since undertaken a thorough investigation, including visual analysis and legal affidavits supplied by the vendor, and he was satisfied that it provided "an absolutely rock-solid authentication".
"We've got to know Tim very well, he's a very honourable individual," Dr Greene said. "The sale of the jumper is not to go into his back pocket, it's to go into production of a film on racism on sport — that is also something we are very happy to be associated with."
Mr O'Brien, who says he has no prior experience as a filmmaker, told Fairfax in April that he had funded the preparations for a documentary film thus far through savings, including the proceeds of the sale of a AFL and NRL sports merchandising business that he sold his interest in four years ago, and which collapsed less than a year later.
Despite this inexperience, Dr Greene said he was confident Tim O'Brien's film project would come to fruition, because of "his word".
He also denied the museum paid a premium, despite the item being passed in at auction for less than the sale price.
"We have very experienced staff who are very conscious of the values that we put on the things we bid for — we certainly don't pay a premium for them," he said.
The No. 7 St Kilda jumper now in the museum's possession is the one worn by Mr Winmar on April 17, 1993 when he raised it to proudly point to his skin as he was being racially abused by Collingwood fans.
"This jumper represent one of the most significant events in Australian cultural history," Dr Greene said. "The word 'iconic' is thrown around very liberally but this is a real iconic object. It marks a point of transformation in attitudes to racism in Australia, not just in sport but more generally."
The jumper will be part of a new First Peoples exhibition in the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at the Melbourne Museum, due to open in July 2013.