Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 7/2/13
Lionel Messi has issues with Spain’s tax man, so he probably wasn’t going to commission a portrait of himself any time soon. Good thing Mauricio Benitez is there to help. The Colombian artist Benitez, better known as Mr. Bling, gave Messi a gaudy gift on Monday — a portrait of the soccer star, which is made entirely of colored Swarovski crystals. It’s estimated to be worth around $50 million (£33 million). Messi was recently in Medellin, Colombia, headlining a charity soccer game called “Lionel Messi and Friends vs. The Rest of the World. The game was held for the benefit of children who suffer from terminal illnesses, and Team Messi prevailed 9-6. Messi was happy with the turnout (15,000 paying customers) and the smiles of ailing children, but another reward was coming his way, according to the Metro. “The little Argentinean was ambushed by Mr. Bling during training this week, and handed the design,” the report says. Bling has made a name for himself by putting crystals on fashion and luxury decorations. His gift to Messi might be among the most expensive marketing ploys in recorded history. See the crystal portrait, Bling and Messi below. Have a question for Marcus Kwesi O’Mard? Send it to him via Twitter at @NESNsoccer, NESN Soccer’s Facebook page or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag. Portrait photo via Twitter/@sir_sickfree Messi and Bling photo via Twitter/@Ernest_kahome

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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