Bonhams International Auction House has verified that the napkin on which Lionel Messi’s initial contract with FC Barcelona was informally written is set to be auctioned on Wednesday, January 31.
“This is 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,” Ian Ehling, head of Fine Books and Manuscripts at Bonhams New York, said.
“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,” he added.
Bonhams International Auction House has announced that it will conduct the auction for the napkin, written in blue ink, in London from March 18 to 27. The auction will be on behalf of Argentine agent Horacio Gaggioli, with a starting price of £300,000 (USD 381,000).
Messi made the transition from Argentina to Barcelona at the age of 13, joining FC Barcelona’s under-14 soccer team. Initially, agents and coaches were hesitant to sign Messi, considering factors such as his young age, height, and non-European background.
“In Barcelona, on 14 December 2000 and the presence of Messrs Minguella and Horacio [Gaggioli], 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,” the napkin reads in blue ink.
Lionel Messi, a football icon, has secured eight Ballon d’Or awards, the most prestigious individual accolade in football. Renowned as Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer, Messi accomplished a historic milestone in 2012, scoring 91 goals across all competitions, surpassing Gerd Muller’s previous record.
The 36-year-old athlete has amassed a remarkable list of achievements, including 10 Spanish La Liga titles and four UEFA Champions League titles during his tenure at Barcelona. His trophy cabinet boasts a total of 44 honors, featuring victories such as the 2021 Copa America and the 2022 World Cup with the Argentine national team.
In 2022, Messi served as the captain, leading Argentina to victory in the World Cup final against France. The triumph was sealed in a penalty shootout after a thrilling 3-3 draw at Doha’s Lusail Stadium.