Napoleon’s hat sells for over $2M at French auction




The Manila Times

Americas And Emea

PARIS: A hat belonging to Napoleon Bonaparte when he was France’s emperor was sold for a record of nearly 2 million euros at a French auction on Sunday, the auction house said. It went for 1.932 million euros ($2.1 million) — breaking the previous record for a Napoleonic hat, held by the same auction house, of 1.884 million euros in 2014, shelled out by a South Korean businessman. The hat, known as a bicorne, is in Napoleon’s trademark colors — black, with the French flag’s blue, white and red colors as insignia — and attracted interest from collectors “the world over,” the Osenat auction house said, declining to give the identity or nationality of the eventual buyer. It was last owned by businessman Jean-Louis Noisiez, who died last year. Other Napoleon memorabilia from the Noisiez collection also went on the block, including a Legion of Honor medal and a pair of silver spurs owned by Napoleon. The final price for the hat, including all charges, was more than double the estimate of 600,000 to 800,000 euros, and nearly four times the reserve price, said the auction house based in Fontainebleau, south of the capital Paris. Napoleon is believed to have owned about 120 such hats in total over 15 years, most of which are now lost. “The hat in itself represented the emperor’s image,” auction house expert Jean-Pierre Osenat told Agence France-Presse (AFP) ahead of the sale. Napoleon wore this particular hat toward the middle of his time as emperor, the auction house said. Unlike most other officers at the time, Napoleon wore his hat sideways, which gave him a distinct silhouette easily recognized by his troops in battle. Napoleon rose to prominence during the French Revolution, becoming a key figure in the revolutionary wars. He served the republic as its first consul and had himself crowned as emperor in 1804. He was exiled in 1815 after losing the battle against British and Prussian forces at Waterloo. He died on the island of Saint Helena in the Atlantic Ocean in 1821. Sunday’s hat sale comes only days before a biopic of Napoleon reaches cinemas worldwide. The film, directed by Ridley Scott, features massive-scale battles across Europe but also portrays Napoleon’s complex relationship with his wife Josephine. Joaquin Phoenix, who plays Napoleon in the movie, said of the late emperor that he was “socially awkward,” but also a “romantic.” Phoenix told AFP in an interview that there had been “something almost endearing” about Napoleon, except that he was “also responsible for the deaths of millions of people.”