The napkin that Messi signed his first Barcelona contract on will now be auctioned
Football enthusiasts and collectors alike are eagerly awaiting the auction of a historic artifact that forever changed the course of Lionel Messi’s illustrious career. The renowned napkin on which Messi penned his first contract with FC Barcelona back on December 14, 2000, is set to go under the hammer at Bonhams, a prestigious British auction house, between March 18 and 27. The estimated selling price is expected to fall within the impressive range of £300,000 to £500,000.
This extraordinary piece of football memorabilia has been carefully preserved in a safe since its inception, under the guardianship of Horacio Gaggioli, Messi’s representative at the time. The iconic napkin bears the signatures of not only the young prodigy himself but also those of Carles Rexach, Barcelona‘s technical secretary, and Josep Maria Minguella, the talent scout credited with discovering Messi.
Minguella played a pivotal role in Messi’s journey to Barcelona, overseeing the football prodigy’s accommodation and well-being along with his father, Jorge, from September 2000 until they settled in the city. The napkin, which was signed during a lunch at La Reial Societat de Tennis Pompeia in Montjuïc, holds a written commitment by Carles Rexach. The inscription, in blue pen ink, attests to the official commitment made on that memorable day, despite some opposing opinions within the Barcelona camp.
The napkin was supposed to go to the Barcelona museum
Originally, Gaggioli had expressed his intent to donate this priceless piece of history to the FC Barcelona museum. However, it seems that sentiment has shifted, as the napkin finds itself on the auction block rather than within the confines of a museum.
The significance of this artifact lies not only in its physicality but in the transformative impact it had on Messi‘s career and the destiny of FC Barcelona. The document became a symbol of commitment during a period of uncertainty at the club, where opinions on signing the young talent varied. Messi, though marveling crowds with his incredible skills, faced skepticism due to growth-related concerns. The Blaugrana club took proactive measures, implementing a treatment plan to ensure his physical development aligned with his age.
Ian Ehling, Head of Books and Manuscripts at Bonhams in New York, expressed his excitement about the upcoming auction. He noted, “This is one of the most exciting items I’ve handled. Yes, it’s a paper napkin, but it’s the famous napkin that marked the beginning of Lionel Messi’s career. It changed Messi’s life, the future of FC Barcelona, and significantly contributed to creating some of the most glorious moments in football, for billions of fans worldwide.”
As the auction date approaches, the football world eagerly anticipates who will become the proud owner of this historic napkin, a tangible piece of the extraordinary journey that led Lionel Messi to become one of the greatest footballers in history.