France’s late emperor Napoleon Bonaparte’s hat was sold for a record price of 1.932 million euros ($2.1 million) at an auction in Paris on Sunday.
The auction of the hat, which is known as a bicorne, beat the previous record for a Napoleonic hat that was held by the same auction house in 2014. It was bought for €1.884 million by a South Korean businessman.
According to auctioneer Jeane-Pierre Osenat, the black-coloured hat —which has the French flag’s blue-white-red colours as insignia – and attracted interest from collectors “the world over”.
He, however, declined to give the identity or nationality of the eventual buyer.
The hat was last owned by businessman Jean-Louis Noisiez, who died last year.
Final price went four times more than the reserved price
The hat was initially estimated for 600,000 to 800,000 euros ($655,00 to $873,000), but the final price went for more than double the estimate and nearly four times the reserve price, the auction house based in Fontainebleau, south of Paris, said.
“One million four hundred fifty thousand [euros] to my left, 1.5 million, we have 1.5 million in the room, 1.5 million for Napoleon’s hat. We’re leaving it at 1.5 million for this major Napoleon symbol, I’m selling for 1.5 million [before fees], no regrets, sold,” Osenat said as he brought down the hammer to applause, reports AFP news agency.
It is believed that Napoleon owned around 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 said ahead of the sale.
Auction comes ahead of Hollywood release
The auction house said that the hat, which went for Sunday’s auction, was worn by Napoleon towards the middle of his time as emperor, which lasted from 1808 to 1815.
The auction comes ahead of the release of a Hollywood biopic on Napoleon. The film is directed by Ridley Scott and features Joaquin Phoenix as the French emperor.
It features massive-scale battles across Europe but also portrays the emperor’s complex relationship with his wife Josephine.
Phoenix said that his character was “socially awkward”, but also a “romantic”.
(With inputs from agencies)