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’: Poets Jean Cocteau and Guillaume Apollinaire and the painters Georges Braque and Juan Gris.
At one of these meetings in a restaurant, the bill came, and simultaneously everyone’s eyes fell on Picasso. Legend has it that he picked up his pen and drew on a napkin that he offered the restaurant owner to pay for the meal. The owner was delighted and asked the artist from Malaga if he could sign the drawing. However, the artist knew what he was doing and proclaimed, “I’m paying for lunch. I’m not buying the restaurant!” The fact is the painter’s signature already had its price!
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 “formalize” the footballer’s contract signing. In this case, all the story details are available: it was the 14th of December 2000, in a bar. Both parties decided to unite the future of the Barcelona club with the best footballer in the world, improvising on a napkin. Anyone who wants to see the napkin can do so in the Barça Museum, where it is on show.
In 2015, a napkin with Margaret Thatcher’s lipstick kiss was auctioned for £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 stayed at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee before her speech on the 2nd of April in the Ohio Theatre.
The rescuer of the 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. Instead of throwing it away, I kept it”. It is assumed the former prime minister was drying the lipstick 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), and a bottle of cava with her signature was valued at £45,000 (almost $50,000).
Without a 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 color, and applied a little talcum powder in the center to give them a 3D and gloss effect.
The final result: legendary lips that have become history “portrayed” on a paper napkin the actress used in May 1962.
The history of the cinema also has famous napkins a part in creating their legacy. One important moment in the history of Pixar was at a meal, in the Hidden City Café, in Point Richmond (California). It was the summer of 1994, months before the launch of its first big success, Toy Story. Meeting there were director John Lasseter and the scriptwriters Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and Joe Ranft. A key question was raised, “And after Toy Story, what comes next?”. It was clear that if Pixar were to create another big film, they had to begin thinking about it yesterday.
Adrenaline rushing, they set about creating sketches of future characters on napkins they had on hand. As Andrew Stanton, director and scriptwriter at Pixar, explained to the New York Times, characters born there later appeared in later films such as Bugs, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo and Wall-e.
In homage to this inspiring restaurant, Pixar hung an image of the Hidden City Café in the film Monsters Inc.