South Korean buyer purchases two-pointed hat once word by the Corsican in a French auction
Napoléon Bonaparte’s hat has sold for €1,884,000 (£1.5 million) at an auction of the French Emperor’s belongings by the Monaco royal family which plans to use the proceeds to fund palace renovations.
A South Korean collector snapped up the iconic two-pointed bicorne hat worn by Napoleon 200 years ago which went for a price far above the expected €400,000 at the sale in Fontainebleau near Paris.
The black beaver felt hat was the most emblematic item of the auction which offered about 1,000 items collected between 1895 and 1920 by Louis II, the great grandfather of the current monarch Prince Albert of Monaco.
The belongings included the embroidered slippers that Napoléon’s son was christened in and gloves left in his coach after the battle of Waterloo, in which the diminutive French leader’s forces were defeated by British and Prussian armies.
Strands of Napoleon’s hair, his stockings, rifles, official decorations, a diamond-studded sword, furniture and paintings, including a portrait of the emperor by Paul Delaroche.
The bicorne, meaning two horizontal points, was a variation on the tricorne, or three-pointed hat, which was popular in the 17th century and favoured by American colonists around the time of the American revolution.
It was acquired by Joseph Giraud, a vet in Napoleon’s household, and remained in his family until 1926 when it was sold to Monaco royal family’s collection.
Napoleon wore his hats sideways – rather than with points at the front and back – so that he could be easily spotted on the battlefield.
Of around 20 of his hats that still exist, only two or three are in private hands with the rest scattered in museums across the world.
“Due to necessary rehabilitation of the Palais de Monaco, which will enhance our cultural heritage, I prefer to give a new lease of life to this collection of objects and relics, by organizing a visible and grouped auction, rather than to see them remain in the shadows,” Prince Albert II wrote in the catalogue of the items being sold by French auctioneers Osena.
Osena did not make public the name of the South Korean collector who bought the hat once worn by the Corsican-born leader who rose to prominence during the latter stages of the French Revolution.