Napoleon Bonaparte’s hat sells for €1.9m at Paris auction
A hat once owned by Napoleon Bonaparte during his rule of the French Empire in the 19th century has been auctioned in Paris for €1.9 million ($2.1 million; £1.7 million), surpassing its estimated value of €600,000 to €800,000 (£525,850-£701,131).
The black beaver-felt bicorne hat, a distinctive part of Napoleon’s image, was often worn sideways on the battlefield, making him easily recognizable.
Napoleon possessed around 120 bicorne hats over the years, but only about 20 are believed to exist today, many held in private collections.
The buyer of the hat has chosen to remain anonymous. The hat was part of a collection of Napoleonic memorabilia from an industrialist who passed away last year, and auctioneers consider it a coveted item among specialists, often referred to as the “true holy grail.”
Napoleon wore his hat with the corns parallel to the shoulders, a style known as “en bataille,” setting him apart from most of his officers who wore their hats perpendicular to the shoulders.
Auctioneer Jean Pierre Osenat noted that the hat was a widely recognized symbol, with its presence signaling Napoleon’s presence on the battlefield.
“And when in private, he always had it on his head or he had it in his hand, and sometimes he threw it on the ground. That was the image – the symbol of the emperor.”
The auctioneers said this hat comes with impeccable provenance, remaining throughout the 19th Century in the family of Napoleon’s palace quartermaster.
The hat being auctioned by Osenat auction house in Fontainebleau has a cockade that Napoleon fixed to his hat in 1815, during the crossing of the Mediterranean from his exile in Elba to Antibes, where he led a brief return to power.
Other items being sold include a silver plate looted from Napoleon’s carriage after his 1815 defeat at Waterloo and a wooden vanity case he owned, with razors, a silver toothbrush, scissors, and other belongings.