Messi Napkin Contract for Barcelona FC Sold for Just Short of $1m


The napkin

The napkin agreement which paved the way to bring the teenage Lionel Messi to FC Barcelona has been sold at Bonhams for £762,400 ($968,300).

The original napkin - measuring 16.5 x 16.5cm - with the agreement written in blue ink was offered in a single lot online auction on behalf of Argentine agent, Horacio Gaggioli and had an estimate of £300,000 - £500,000.

The commitment by Carles Rexach, Barcelona's Sporting Director stated: "En Barcelona, a 14 de diciembre del 2000 y en presencia de los Sres. Minguella y Horacio, Carles Rexach, secretario técnico del FC Barcelona, se compromete bajo su responsabilidad y a pesar de algunas opiniones en contra a fichar al jugador Lionel Messi siempre y cuando nos mantengamos en las cantidades acordadas". ("In Barcelona, on December 14, 2000, and 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.").

The statement is signed by Carles Rexach, a longstanding player and coach for the club and Josep Minguella, the transfer advisor to the club who, together with Rexach, arranged for Messi's tryout in September 2000. Horacio Gaggioli, the Argentine agent who brought Messi to the attention of Carles Rexach, was also at the lunch table meeting at Pompeia tennis club and signed the napkin. 

The agreement on the napkin was confirmed later that night by the President of FC Barcelona, Joan Gaspart on more substantial paper. With Lionel Messi in its squad, FC Barcelona had years of success - from 2008 to 2012, the team won 14 trophies under the management of Pep Guardiola.

"Since the sale was first announced it captured international attention from fans all over the world," said Ian Ehling, Head of Fine Books and Manuscripts at Bonhams New York. "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."