You could hang Lionel Messi on your wall ... for $450,000

    Story highlights

    • Takashi Murakami's 'Lionel Messi and a Universe of Flowers' sells for $488,000
    • The Sotheby's event will raises $3.8 million for the 1in11 charity funding access to education and sport for children
    • Damien Hirst's spin painting of Messi raises $562,000
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    (CNN)He moves grown men to tears, entrances millions with his footwork and sparks delirious celebrations from adoring fans -- and now Lionel Messi has become a famous artist's latest muse.

    Japan's Takashi Murakami portrait of the Barcelona great sold for £317,000 ($488,000) at a charity auction in London Thursday.
      "Lionel Messi and a Universe of Flowers" depicts the Argentine surrounded by a psychedelic bouquet and forms a central part of an auction hosted by one of the world's largest brokers of fine art Sotheby's.
      The 1in11 charity -- launched by the Lionel Messi & FC Barcelona Foundation, UNICEF, and Reach Out To Asia that funds access to education and sports for children across the world, raised a total of $3.8 million.
      "It was extraordinary. It's a spectacular number, and we are very happy," Ramon Pont, vice president of the FC Barcelona Foundation, said in a statement.
      "Today, in addition to the artworks and the stars who have inspired them, the true protagonists are the children of Nepal, Indonesia, and Bangladesh, who will find it easier to go to school and fulfill their dreams."
      British art enfant terrible Damien Hirst -- famous for pickling dead animals in formaldehyde -- also had a piece up for sale, capturing the beauty of Messi in a spin painting which sold for $562,000.
      The art of football
      Many members of football's elite are collectors of art -- David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Roman Abramovich and Fabio Capello, to name a few -- and the "beautiful game" serves as inspiration to a host of artists across the globe.
      The artworks take wildly varying forms, from bright abstract compositions to painstaking tapestries.
      While Nicolas de Stael's "Footballeurs," comprised of blobs of colors splashed liberally across the canvas, might look like it was done by somebody who got carried away with paint samples, it actually depicts one of the first ever football games to be played under floodlights in France 1952.
      De Stael was so inspired by what he saw that he immediately went home and stayed up the whole night to create this masterpiece worth millions, attracting interest in a separate Sotheby's auction.
      Francesco Vezzoli's ancient Greek themed "Portrait of Gerard Pique as Apollo del Belvedere" goes as far as to liken Messi's Barca teammate to a god.
      "These people are divas -- but not in a negative sense, they're icons and they represent their own sport but they represent the universe of financial interest, they advertise things... for me they are the Latin answers to Posh and Becks," Vezzoli told CNN.
      The Italian believes football clubs have more in common with galleries than you might think.
      "People don't like to admit it but you know, the biggest galleries are like the biggest football clubs, and they swap athletes... they are fabled," explains Vezzoli. "There's always a hot name -- there's a young one that everybody's eyes are on, then everybody changes their mind."
      Vezzoli also argues that the world's fascination with football could be because the sport represents the pursuit of perfection and beauty.
      "In different degrees we are all influenced by the need or the desire of being more perfect, more beautiful."
      The collection also demonstrates football art can provide a dialogue for important social issues.
      Manal Al Dowayan's "The Choice IV" shows a Saudi woman holding a football aloft, challenging the limits that religion and tradition can place on women.
      "I do feel excluded out of my society -- women are perpetual minors in my Saudi," Al Dowayan told CNN.
      "The woman in that picture is a young Saudi woman who received a scholarship for high school through football, so she really did play very well -- obviously she doesn't play it anymore because there is no league in the country.
      "Everybody watches football. Everybody appreciates a winning team. Sportsmanship, and what it does to an individual, a group, a community is something that everybody should include in their structure, or the fabric of their social existence."
      This has been especially true of the Africa Cup of Nations, which had a gripping finale on Sunday: "The Ivory Coast has gone through many years of struggle and civil war, and for them to win there was such a deep celebration within their country and beyond," added Al Dowayan.
      As the 1in11 auction shows, art really does have a place in football -- whether you're a professional, an artist or a spectator.
      "That's what's interesting about football and art -- it includes everybody... it's something that transcends language, politics and borders," said Al Dowayan.