A total of $964,450, or just over 887,000 euros at the current exchange rate, is the price that has finally been paid for the famous paper napkin that served as Lionel Messi’s first contract with FC Barcelona. It was signed by the future soccer star in the year 2000, when he was just 13 years old.

The museum piece, auctioned by the prestigious English firm Bonham’s, had a starting price of 300,000 pounds, approximately $380,000. In other words, the price paid has tripled.

The coveted object, which had been kept in a safe deposit box in Andorra for over 20 years, had been offered on behalf of Horacio Gaggioli, the intermediary who signed the agreement with Carles Rexach, then technical secretary of Barça, and with the representative Josep Maria Minguella, according to Bonham’s.

Finally, at the auction held on Bond Street, the most expensive and famous napkin in the world received a single bid of 275,000 dollars until 30 minutes before the end, when it was bombarded with bids, surpassing the high estimate of 630,000 dollars. The iconic document then entered into an extended auction where the final amount reached 964,450 dollars (including the buyer’s premium), just over 887,000 euros.

On the napkin, whose photo illustrates this information, the text written in blue pen by the hand of Carles Rexach read: “In Barcelona, on December 14, 2000, and in the presence of Messrs. Minguella and Horacio, Carles Rexach, technical secretary of FC Barcelona, commits under his responsibility and despite some opposing opinions, to sign the player Lionel Messi as long as we stay within the agreed amounts.”

The first unofficial contract took place at the Pompeya Tennis Club in Barcelona, during a lunch attended by Rexach, Minguella, and Gaggioli.

Barça’s technical secretary received a “frantic” call from an impatient Jorge Messi, who informed him that Barcelona’s opportunity to sign his son was running out. That’s why Rexach sprang into action: he asked a waiter for a paper napkin as he couldn’t find any other object to write on, and drafted an impromptu contract to offer Jorge a minimum commitment for his son.

The subsequent history is well known to all: Leo Messi would become the best player in Barça’s history, winning 8 Ballon d’Or awards, 4 Champions League titles, and 10 La Liga titles with Barça, in addition to a World Cup with Argentina (2022).

Josep Maria Minguella recounted the details of that episode and Messi’s arrival in Barcelona in an article published in La Vanguardia, in which the agent described what the young Argentine prodigy was like.

“At 13 years old, Leo was a shy boy with an elusive gaze – he wouldn’t look you in the eye – who seemed a bit scared. He was the third of four siblings, but he was already the center of the family. Despite his shyness, he always showed affection towards me, as I was the agent who had facilitated his entry into Europe. I used to go watch him play, and he always greeted me with two kisses. That’s why we had a close bond.

Sometimes he would come home to eat, like when we used to have a barbecue with Riquelme, Motta, and the players from that time, and he, shyly, would sit at one end eating macaroni that my wife had made. Years later, he would remember Mrs. Orquídea’s macaroni.”