A Napkin That Spawned Messi's Epic Career Proves Pricey

Napkin bearing Barcelona's 2000 commitment to sign the future soccer legend sells for $965K
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 17, 2024 11:07 AM CDT
A Napkin That Spawned Messi's Epic Career Proves Pricey
A framed copy of the napkin linking the 13-year-old Lionel Messi to FC Barcelona is seen in Barcelona, Spain on Jan. 5, 2012.   (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)

The famous napkin that linked a young Lionel Messi to Barcelona sold for $965,000 on Friday, British auction house Bonhams said, per the AP. An agreement in principle to sign the-then 13-year-old Messi was written on the napkin almost 24 years ago at a Barcelona tennis club. A more formal and detailed contract with the club followed soon after. An undisclosed percentage of the sale price pays administrative fees for the online auction, in what's called the buyer's premium. Bonhams said the auction was on behalf of Horacio Gaggioli, an agent from Messi's home country of Argentina who was part of the deal. The contract language, written in blue ink, was intended to reassure the teenager's father, Jorge Messi, that the deal would go through.

Jorge Messi had threatened to take his son back to Argentina because negotiations with Barcelona had stalled. The napkin, dated Dec. 14, 2000, bears the signatures of Gaggioli, another agent, Josep Maria Minguella, and Barcelona's then-sporting director, Carles Rexach, who met at a tennis club. Rexach had asked a waiter for paper and was given a blank napkin. The starting price was $379,000. Messi, considered one of the best soccer players to ever live, made his career at Barcelona. He played 17 seasons with the main squad following his 2004 debut, winning every major trophy, including the Champions League four times and the Spanish league 10 times. He left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in 2021 and has since joined Inter Miami.

(More Lionel Messi stories.)

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