Hat worn by Napoleon fetches record €1.9m at Paris auction
Napoleon Bonaparte's bicorne hat, which he wore when he ruled as the French emperor, was sold for an all-time high of €1.932m (£1.69m) at an auction held in Paris.
In the beginning, the black beaver felt hat with two corners, known as a bicorne, was predicted to be worth around €600,000-800,000. However, during the auction, the price went beyond that and ended up being sold for €1.884m. This amount is even higher than the previous sale of one of Napoleon's hats by the same auction house in 2014. According to a representative from the company, they were very pleased with the outcome.
It is speculated that the French military leader possessed a total of 120 hats throughout his life, but only 20 of them have survived.
Many people believe that the excitement over the upcoming release of Ridley Scott's movie about Napoleon with Joaquin Phoenix has caused the price for sale to be much higher than it should be.
Napoleon tilted his hats to the side in order to stand out on the battlefield, resulting in the creation of one of the most well-known trademarks in history. This brand has continued to exist for over two centuries since his passing.
The bumps on his clothes were put in a straight line next to his shoulders. This fashion is called "en bataille". Most of his colleagues, on the other hand, put their bumps at a 90-degree angle to their shoulders.
According to Pierre Osenat who works at the Drouot auction house, the hat is easily recognizable because it has a "cockade". This refers to a group of ribbons with unique shades that Napoleon is said to have included in 1815. At that time, he was traveling from his exile in Elba towards Antibes in the Mediterranean, which resulted in a brief comeback before he was finally defeated at Waterloo.
According to Osenat, the majority of the Napoleonic bicornes that have survived can be found on display in museums. The rest, around five of them, are owned privately.
The bicorne hat has a great history because it was kept within the same family for the whole 19th century. These people were the heirs of Jean-Louis Noisiez, who was a quartermaster at Napoleon's palace, according to what Osenat stated.
Before the auction, Osenat informed the French media that this headgear was recognizable to all. During conflicts, individuals could identify Napoleon's presence immediately upon seeing it.
When he was alone, the emperor would either wear the item on his head or hold it in his hand, and occasionally toss it to the ground. This was a distinctive characteristic of the emperor.
The most prominent piece in the auction of the assortment belonging to French businessman Col Pierre Baillon, who passed away in the previous year, was the hat.
The item was sold at an auction alongside various other artifacts. Among them was a nightshirt that Napoleon wore during his exile on the island of St. Helena, where he passed away in 1821. Another item was a silver dinner plate that was taken from his carriage after he lost the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Additionally, a mahogany vanity case was sold, containing a well-maintained sterling silver toothbrush, scissors, razors, and other personal items used by Napoleon. This particular item sold for up to €60,000. Other items that were sold at the auction included swords, firearms, and coins.
Back in 2014, a person from South Korea bought a bicorne hat that was famously worn by Napoleon during the Battle of Marengo in 1800. The buyer paid a little less than €1.9 million for it. This particular item, along with many others, was being sold by the royal family of Monaco.