The most famous napkins
Fecha20 November, 2017
Pablo Picasso’s napkin
They say that in the early 20th century, the painter and sculptor Pablo Picasso often met up with his friends from ‘La bande à Picasso’: the poets Jean Cocteau and Guillaume Apolinaire, the painters Georges Braque and Juan Gris…
In one of these meetings in a restaurant, after having enjoyed a big meal, when the bill came everyone’s eyes fell on Picasso. Then, he picked up his pen and did one of his drawings on the napkin that he offered to the restaurant owner to pay for the meal with. Before this unexpected gift, the owner was delighted and asked the artist from Malaga if he could sign the drawing. However, the artist knew what he was doing: “I’m paying for lunch, I’m not buying the restaurant”. The fact is the painter’s signature already had its price!
Other sources claim the anecdote about the napkin took place in a cafeteria where Picasso only had a coffee, and not accompanied by his friends. Who knows?… What is clear is that this napkin exists.
Lionel Messi’s napkin
And if we are talking of valuable napkins, among the most sought-after in history are those used by the representatives of Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona to “formalise” the footballer’s contract signing. In this case all the details of the story are available: it was the 14th of December 2000, in a bar and in an improvised way, when both parties decided to unite the future of the Barcelona club with the best footballer in the world. Anyone who wants to see the napkin can do so in the Barça Museum, where it is on show.
Margaret Thatcher’s napkin
Can you imagine having one of the Iron Lady’s most personal souvenirs? In 2015 a napkin with the mark of Margaret Thatcher’s lipstick came up for auction at a price of £2,000 (about €2,200). It seems that the origin of this collectors’ item was in a speech that Thatcher made in the United States in 2000.
The Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1979 to 1990 took part in the annual supper of the Wisconsin Medical College and stayed at the Pfister Hotel, in Milwaukee. She then moved on to Columbus (Ohio), where she had to speak on the 2nd of April, in the Ohio Theatre. It is precisely there where one of the workers found, in the wastebasket of her changing room, a napkin from the Pfister Hotel with Thatcher’s lipstick mark.
The person who rescued such a famous napkin explained, “I was working in the Ohio Theatre and one of my jobs was to empty the waste paper baskets of the changing rooms. When I looked into Margaret Thatcher’s, her waste paper basket only contained a napkin from the Pfister Hotel with her lips marked on it. Instead of throwing it away, I kept it”. It is assumed the former prime minister was drying the lipstick just before going out on stage.
The former prime minister’s objects have been much sought-after. Apart from the napkin, her handbags have been sold for $100,000 (€110,200), or a bottle of cava with her signature was valued at £45,000 (almost €50,000).
Marylin Monroe’s napkin
Without doubt, Thatcher’s napkin is valuable due to the importance of the figure (the British politician was the first woman to become prime minister, as well as the person who occupied the office for the longest period of time in the 20th century). However, if we are talking about red lips there is no doubt that the most famous ones are those of the actress and sex symbol Marilyn Monroe.
One of the phrases attributed to her is, “When I want to feel smart without making any effort, I put on sunglasses, red lipstick, and that’s it”. Said in this way, it seems that putting on lipstick Monroe-style is something done in a flash, but experts in the matter confirm that the artiste painted her lips with different layers of the same colour, applied a little talcum powder in the centre to give them a 3D effect and then the gloss effect.
An authentic ‘backstage’ ritual that is reflected in the final result: legendary lips that have become history in the memory of many and which have been “portrayed” on a paper napkin that the actress used in May 1962.
As well as that of Marilyn Monroe, the history of the cinema also has famous napkins in the field of animation. They say that one of the most important moments in the history of Pixar was a meal in the Hidden City Café, in Point Richmond (California), in summer 1994, months before the launch of its first big success, Toy Story. Meeting there were the director John Lasseter and the scriptwriters Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and Joe Ranft, when the key question was raised, “And after Toy Story, what?”. It was clear that if Pixar wanted to make another big film they had to begin thinking about it.
It was at the same meal when they set about creating and making sketches of characters on the napkins they had at hand. As Andrew Stanton, director and scriptwriter at Pixar explained in an interview in the New York Times, some of the characters were born there that later appeared in films such as Bugs, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo or Wall-e.
As a curiosity, to add that in homage to this inspiring restaurant, Pixar hung an image of the Hidden City Café in the film Monsters Inc.