Lionel Messi’s famous Barcelona napkin sold for $965,000

The famous napkin that linked a young Lionel Messi to Barcelona sold for £762,400 ($965,000) on Friday, British auction house Bonhams said.

An agreement in principle to sign the then-13-year-old Messi was written on the napkin almost 25 years ago at a Barcelona tennis club. A more formal and detailed contract with the club followed soon after.

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An undisclosed percentage of the sale price pays administrative fees for the online auction, in what’s called the buyer’s premium.

Bonhams said the auction was on behalf of Horacio Gaggioli, an agent from Messi’s home country of Argentina who was part of the deal.

The contract language, written in blue ink, was intended to reassure the teenager’s father, Jorge Messi, that the deal would go through.

Jorge Messi had threatened to take his son back to Argentina because negotiations with Barça had stalled.

The napkin, containing the date Dec. 14, 2000, bears the signatures of Gaggioli, another agent, Josep Maria Minguella and Barça’s then-sporting director, Carles Rexach, who met at a tennis club.

Rexach had asked a waiter for paper and was given a blank napkin.

The starting price was £300,000 ($379,000).

Messi spent nearly two decades with Barça after arriving from Argentina at 13 to play in the club’s youth team. He made his first-team debut in 2004 and played 17 seasons with the club. He helped Barça win every major trophy, including four Champions Leagues and 10 LaLiga titles.

Messi left Barça for Paris Saint-Germain in summer 2021. He has since joined Inter Miami.