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A napkin serving as Lionel Messi’s first contract sold for $1 million

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A napkin — yes, a napkin — sold for nearly $1 million at an auction.

It’s no ordinary wipe, though: Inter Miami star and soccer legend Lionel Messi has ties to the napkin sold at a Bonhams auction on Friday.

The napkin, inked in blue, is actually a contract that led to Messi joining FC Barcelona, which set off arguably the most decorated career in the sport.


Lionel Messi warms up before the game against CF Montréal at Saputo Stadium on May 11, 2024 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Getty Images

The winning bid, according to USA Today, was the equivalent of $965,000

USA Today notes that the bidding began on May 8 at £220,000, which translates to $274,824.

Messi joined Barça in 2000 on their youth soccer club while just 13 years old.

Carles Rexach, the former sporting director at Barcelona, had signed the napkin, along with Messi’s then-agent Horacio Gaggioli, who is responsible for putting together the teenaged prodigy Messi’s tryout with Barcelona in September 2000.

Gaggioli also organized the auction after keeping the napkin safe ever since.


Lionel Messi's preserved napkin contract with FC Barcelona sold for nearly $1 million at an auction.
Lionel Messi’s preserved napkin contract with FC Barcelona sold for nearly $1 million at an auction. @BRFootball on X

The napkin, which is written in Spanish, reads: “In Barcelona, on 14 December 2000 and the presence of Mr. 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.”

“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 via a news release prior to the sale.

“It changed the life of Messi, the future of FC Barcelona, and was instrumental in giving some of the most glorious moments of soccer to billions of fans around the globe,” he said.

After playing on the youth level for three seasons, he enjoyed stints on Barcelona’s C and B squads before making his debut with the senior level club in 2004 at just 17 years old.

Messi famously played for Barcelona until 2021, leaving for Paris Saint-Germain, where he played until joining Inter Miami in 2023.

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