Hat belonging to Napoleon fetches record £1,700,000 at auction
The faded and cracked felt bicorne hat was initially estimated to fetch £525,000 to £700,000 (€600,000 to €800,000) when it went under the hammer in Paris.
It beat the €1.8 million paid for another Napoleon hat in 2014. The buyer has not yet gone public.
Auctioneer Jean-Pierre Osenat said the hat was one of Napoleon’s trademarks.
He is thought to have owned around 120 throughout his life, although only 20 are believed to remain.
‘People recognised this hat everywhere. When they saw it on the battlefields, they knew Napoleon was there,’ Mr Osenat said.
‘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.’
He described how Napoleon always wore the hat with the corners aligned with his shoulders – known as ‘en bataille’, or ‘in battle’ – while most people at the time wore it with the corners front to back.
The hat on sale was first recovered by Colonel Pierre Baillon, a quartermaster under Napoléon, according to the auctioneers.
It then passed through many hands before industrialist Jean-Louis Noisiez acquired it.
The entrepreneur spent more than a half-century assembling his collection of Napoleonic memorabilia, firearms, swords and coins before his death in 2022.
The sale came days before the release of Ridley Scott’s film ‘Napoleon’ with Joaquin Phoenix, which is rekindling interest in the controversial French ruler.