Blond, glamorous and fluent in four languages, Ini Asmann was on the fast track to international stardom when the movie producer she met and married in the 1970s began casting her in films across Europe. But after five years of lead roles in film and TV productions, the Munich native with ice-goddess looks paused her career and turned down a lucrative Hollywood offer to become a full-time mom. Seeking a new hobby, she picked up a camera and started taking pictures.
Encouraged by friends who noted her natural talent behind the lens, Asmann started photographing and interviewing her fellow actors in Germany, including Elke Sommer, Maximilian Schell and Romy Schneider. As her circle of celebrity friends expanded, so did the list of publications that clamored for her “insider” access to the stars. During the 1970s and ’80s, Asmann photographed dozens of Hollywood A-listers — Janet Leigh, Joan Collins, Sean Connery and Barbara Eden, to name but a few.
Asmann also interviewed some of the sports world’s premier athletes, including soccer legends Pele and Franz Beckenbauer, both of whom gifted her with game-worn soccer jerseys that are now valuable collectors items. The New York Cosmos team jerseys, which have been in Asmann’s personal collection since 1977, are up for bid in Grey Flannel Auctions‘ current sale.
Beckenbauer, the two-time European Footballer of the Year known to his legion of fans as “Der Kaiser” (The Emperor), was the only player to captain three European Cup winning sides. In 1977, after serving as president of his club Bayern Munich, Beckenbauer spent four seasons with the New York Cosmos. He was also Asmann’s good friend and next-door neighbor.
Through Beckenbauer, Asmann met and interviewed his teammate, the phenomenal Brazilian striker whom many regard as soccer’s greatest player ever, Pele. “In October of 1977, Ini interviewed both Beckenbauer and Pele. Both athletes gave her their personal game-worn jerseys as a gift,” Russek said.
Both jerseys are offered with letters of authenticity, but Beckenbauer’s comes with double provenance — typed letters in German and English, each personally signed by the soccer idol.