British auction house Bonhams announced on Wednesday that the serviette, on which 13-year-old Lionel Messi signed his first contract with Barcelona, will go up for auction in March with a starting price of 300,000 pounds ($381,000).
The serviette was signed in December 2000, after Horacio Gaggioli, the agent, and Jorge Messi, the Argentine adolescent who would become the club’s all-time leading scorer, reached an agreement with Carles Rexach, Barca’s sporting director at the time.
The crucial event in the history of football transpired when Rexach extended an invitation to Messi senior to attend lunch, expressing his dissatisfaction with the lack of reaction to his son’s initial trials at the Spanish club.
“In Barcelona, on 14 December 2000 and in 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,” is written on the napkin from the Pompeia tennis club.
That same evening, the deal was formally signed by Joan Gaspart, the club president at the time.
A month later, Barcelona completed Messi’s contract, kicking off his 20-year tenure at the Catalan club.
The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner made a record 782 appearances, scored 674 goals, and assisted Barca in winning 35 trophies.