Napoleon’s hat sells for record 1.9 mn euros in French auction

A hat belonging to Napoleon Bonaparte when he was French emperor sold for a record of nearly two million euros at a French auction on Sunday, the auction house said.

It went for 1.932 million euros ($2.1 million), breaking the previous record for a Napoleonic hat, held by the same auction house, of 1.884 million euros in 2014.

The hat, known as a bicorne, is in Napoleon’s trademark colors — black, with the French flag’s colors blue-white-red as insignia — and attracted collectors “from the world over” auctioneers Osenat said, declining to give the identity or nationality of the eventual buyer.

It was last owned by businessman Jean-Louis Noisiez who died last year.

The final price was more than double the estimate of 600,000 to 800,000 euros, and nearly four times the reserve price, the auction house based in Fontainebleau south of Paris said.

Napoleon is believed to have owned around 120 such hats, most of which are now lost.

“The hat in itself represented the emperor’s image,” auction house expert Jean-Pierre Osenat told AFP ahead of the sale.

Napoleon wore this particular hat towards the middle of his time as emperor which lasted from 1808 to 1815, according to the auction house.

Unlike most people at the time, Napoleon wore his hat sideways, giving him a distinct silhouette easily recognized by his troops in battle.

Napoleon rose to prominence during the French Revolution, becoming a key figure in the Revolutionary Wars.

He served the republic as first consul and was crowned emperor in 1804.

He was exiled in 1815 after losing the battle against British and Prussian forces at Waterloo.

He died in 1821 on the island of Saint Helena in the Atlantic Ocean.

Sunday’s hat sale comes only days before a biopic on Napoleon reaches cinemas worldwide.

The film, by Ridley Scott, features massive-scale battles across Europe but also portrays his complex relationship with his wife Josephine.

Joaquin Phoenix, who plays Napoleon in the movie, said of the late emperor that he was “socially awkward”, but also a “romantic”.