Napkin With Lionel Messi’s First Contract Fetches $950,000 at Auction

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    The napkin on which Leo Messi’s first contract with Barcelona was written has been auctioned by Bonhams for $950,000.

    Napkin With Lionel Messis First Contract Fetches 950000 at Auction Image Credits Marca
    Napkin With Lionel Messi’s First Contract Fetches $950,000 at Auction, Image Credits – Marca


    1. How much is Lionel Messi earning from Inter Miami in MLS?

      Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi is the highest-paid player in MLS, with a guaranteed compensation of $20.4 million—more than the combined guaranteed compensation of 25 MLS rosters.

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    Historic Contract on a Napkin: Messi’s Beginnings with Barcelona

    Dating back to December 2000, when Messi was only thirteen years old, the napkin represents the agreement of a contract with Barcelona.

    Signed in blue pen by Carles Rexach, who was the sporting director of the Blaugrana at the time, this piece was previously owned by Argentine agent Horacio Gaggioli. It was offered in a nine-day online auction by Bonhams after being exhibited in Paris, New York, and London in recent months.

    FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – La Liga Santander – FC Barcelona v Celta Vigo – Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain – May 16, 2021 Barcelona’s Lionel Messi reacts after Clement Lenglet is sent off REUTERS/Albert Gea/File Photo

    The 2000 contract with Barcelona changed the fortunes of the Catalan club and Messi himself, who went on to become one of the greatest players of all time.

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    Lionel Messi’s Genesis: The Napkin That Foretold Greatness

    The napkin that bore witness to Barcelona’s commitment to sign a 13-year-old Lionel Messi has been auctioned off for £762,400.

    Initially priced at £300,000, the ‘standard Spanish waxy napkin’, measuring 16.5 x 16.5cm, was laminated and framed for preservation.

    Signed in blue ink in December 2000, the napkin holds the pledge from then Barcelona director Carles Rexach to secure Messi’s signature. Additionally signed by Josep Minguella, a transfer adviser to the Spanish club, and agent Horacio Gaggioli, who recommended the Argentine prodigy, the napkin represented a pivotal moment in football history.

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    Offered in an online auction by London-based Bonhams on behalf of Gaggioli, the napkin marked the inception of Messi’s journey with Barcelona, where he would later become the club’s record goalscorer and earn acclaim as one of the greatest players of all time.

    Making his debut for Barcelona’s first team at the age of 16, Messi went on to amass a staggering 672 goals in 778 games for the Catalan giants, securing 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies before departing for Paris St-Germain in 2021. The 36-year-old World Cup winner now plies his trade for Inter Miami.

    Soccer Football – La Liga Santander – FC Barcelona v Celta Vigo – Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain – May 16, 2021 Barcelona’s Lionel Messi REUTERS/Albert Gea

    The agreement on the napkin was reached during a meeting arranged by Rexach, who invited Messi’s father, Jorge, to lunch following concerns from the Messi family about a lack of response from Barcelona after the teenager’s initial trial.

    Translated into English, the inscription on the napkin reads: “In Barcelona, on 14 December 2000 and in the presence of Messrs Minguella and Horacio, Carles Rexach, FC Barcelona’s sporting director, hereby agrees, under his responsibility and regardless of any dissenting opinions, to sign the player Lionel Messi, provided that we keep to the amounts agreed upon.”

    Messi’s Monumental Achievements: A Legacy Beyond Borders

    Among other accomplishments, Messi has secured 35 titles with Barcelona and major honors with the Argentine national team, including an Olympic gold medal, the Copa América, and eight Ballon d’Or awards. His pursuit of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar adds to his illustrious career.

    Ian Ehling, head of books and manuscripts at Bonhams in New York, noted that the napkin garnered “international attention from many fans” since the auction announcement. He described it as one of the “most intriguing” items they have handled.

    It’s not just a napkin; it’s the renowned napkin that marked the beginning of Leo Messi’s journey. It transformed his life, shaped the future of Barcelona, and contributed to some of football’s most glorious moments,” Ehling added.

    FILE PHOTO: Feb 15, 2024; Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA; Inter Miami CF forward Lionel Messi (10) reacts after shooting the ball against the Newell’s Old Boys during the first half at DRV PNK Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

    Ian Ehling, head of fine books and manuscripts at Bonhams New York, said: “Since the sale was first announced it captured international attention and fans all over the world have anticipated this day.”

    What a wonderful result for one of the most thrilling items I have ever handled. Yes, it’s a paper napkin, but it’s the famous napkin that was at the inception of Lionel Messi’s career.”

    It changed the life of Messi, the future of FC Barcelona, and was instrumental in giving some of the most glorious moments of football to billions of fans around the globe.”

    Bonhams said that “allegations concerning the ownership of the napkin were raised in March but have not been substantiated and appear from recent press comment to have been retracted“.

    The auction house added: “The consignor of the napkin has received a legal opinion which confirms to them that they have clear title and the right to sell the napkin under Spanish law, and the seller gives a full warranty of title with the sale.”

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