• Friday, June 21, 2024
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Messi’s Barcelona contract Napkin sold for £762,400

Messi’s Barcelona contract napkin

The napkin that sealed 13-year-old Lionel Messi‘s signing with Barcelona has been sold at auction for £762,400 at at Bonhams New York store.

Originally starting at £300,000, the ‘standard Spanish waxy napkin,’ measuring 16.5 x 16.5 cm, was laminated and framed.

Signed in blue ink in December 2000, the napkin contains a pledge from then-Barcelona director Carles Rexach to sign Messi. It was also signed by Josep Minguella, a transfer adviser to the Spanish club, and agent Horacio Gaggioli, who recommended Messi.

Gaggioli offered the napkin in an online auction through London-based Bonhams.

A month after the agreement, Messi joined Barcelona, eventually becoming their all-time top scorer and widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. He debuted for Barcelona’s first team at 16, scoring a record 672 goals in 778 games.

During his tenure, Messi won 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies before transferring to Paris Saint-Germain in 2021. The 36-year-old World Cup winner now plays for Inter Miami.

The napkin was signed during a meeting arranged by Rexach, who invited Messi’s father, Jorge, to lunch following concerns about Barcelona’s delayed response after Messi’s trial.

The translated inscription reads: “In Barcelona, on 14 December 2000, in the presence of Messrs. Minguella and Horacio, Carles Rexach, FC Barcelona’s sporting director, 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.”

Ian Ehling, head of fine books and manuscripts at Bonhams New York, remarked, “Since the sale was announced, it captured international attention. This is a wonderful result for one of the most thrilling items I’ve ever handled. Yes, it’s a paper napkin, but it marks the inception of Lionel Messi’s career, changing his life, and Barcelona’s future, and providing countless glorious moments for football fans worldwide.”

Bonhams acknowledged 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of the napkin were raised in March but have not been substantiated and appear from recent press comment to have been retracted.”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 further stated, “The consignor of the napkin has received a legal opinion confirming clear title and the right to sell the napkin under Spanish law, and the seller provides a full warranty of title with the sale.”