Napoleon Bonaparte's iconic bicorne hat fetches record $2.1 million at auctiontext_fields
Paris: Napoleon Bonaparte's iconic bicorne hat, a symbol of his reign as French emperor, set a new auction record by selling for 1.932 million euros ($2.1 million).
The previous record, held by the same auction house, was 1.884 million euros in 2014, acquired by a South Korean businessman.
The bicorne, adorned in Napoleon's signature colours of black with the French flag's blue-white-red insignia, garnered immense interest from global collectors, eventually fetching a staggering sum at the French auction, conducted by Osenat. The buyer's identity and nationality remain undisclosed.
Previously owned by businessman Jean-Louis Noisiez, who passed away last year, the hat was part of his collection of Napoleon memorabilia, including a Legion of Honour medal and a pair of silver spurs owned by the emperor.
Surpassing expectations, the final bid for the hat, inclusive of charges, soared past double the estimated value of 600,000 to 800,000 euros and nearly quadrupled the reserve price, confirmed the Fontainebleau-based auction house, reported AFP.
Describing the significance of the hat, Jean-Pierre Osenat, an expert from the auction house, highlighted, "The hat in itself represented the emperor's image."
This particular bicorne was worn by Napoleon during the middle phase of his reign as emperor, distinguished by his unique style of wearing it sideways, setting him apart from other officers and making him easily recognisable by his troops during battles.
Napoleon's historical legacy encompasses his rise during the French Revolution, his pivotal role in revolutionary wars, his tenure as the republic's first consul, and his self-coronation as emperor in 1804. However, his downfall came in 1815 after his defeat at the hands of British and Prussian forces in the Battle of Waterloo, leading to his exile and eventual demise in 1821 on the island of Saint Helena in the Atlantic Ocean.
The sale of the hat coincides with the imminent release of a biopic on Napoleon directed by Ridley Scott. The film delves into Napoleon's life, portraying his intricate relationship with his wife Josephine and featuring grand-scale battles across Europe.
Joaquin Phoenix, essaying the role of Napoleon in the movie, characterised the late emperor as "socially awkward" yet "romantic." Reflecting on Napoleon's complex persona, Phoenix acknowledged the endearing aspects while also highlighting his responsibility for the loss of millions of lives.
Despite the challenges of conflicting historical accounts, Phoenix emphasised his quest for inspiration over the information in portraying Napoleon, delving into details such as the emperor's eating and drinking habits to capture his essence on screen.