Wednesday 17th of April 2024

The Crowned Conquest: Napoleon's Iconic Hat Commands Historic $2.1 Million at Paris Auction

In a riveting spectacle of historical allure, a bicorne hat, purportedly worn by the iconic Napoleon Bonaparte, has seized the spotlight at the Drouot auction house in Paris, fetching an astounding 1,932,000 euros (US$2.11 million) on a Sunday auction. This staggering figure surpassed the initial valuation of 600,000 to 800,000 euros, marking a resounding triumph in the realm of historical artifacts.

The auction, presided over by the seasoned auctioneer Jean-Pierre Osenat, witnessed an electrifying bidding war, culminating in the breaking of records previously set at Drouot. The winning bid eclipsed the 2014 sale of another Napoleon hat, which had commanded a price of 1,884,000 euros. Osenat's dramatic announcement, met with applause, resonated through the auction hall as he declared, "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."

Offering insight into the significance of the black beaver felt hat, Osenat emphasized its role as a trademark for Napoleon, asserting that the French leader owned approximately 120 such hats during his lifetime. "The hat was part of the image he constructed, as Napoleon was a man of communication," noted Osenat. Notably, Napoleon's distinctive style extended to the way he wore the hat—aligning the corners with his shoulders, a departure from the prevailing fashion of the time, where most individuals wore it with the corners front to back.

The allure of Napoleon's personal effects continues to captivate collectors and enthusiasts, with hats believed to have been owned by the French emperor frequently gracing auction catalogs. This event follows the auction of a newly discovered Napoleon hat in October 2021, complete with DNA evidence affirming its provenance, underscoring the enduring fascination with the legacy of one of history's most iconic figures.

As the gavel fell, marking the conclusion of the auction, the sale of Napoleon's hat not only cemented its status as a tangible piece of history but also served as a testament to the enduring allure of artifacts associated with the legendary French leader. Reported by Ardee Napolitano, this historical transaction was chronicled by Geert De Clercq, with editing by Andrew Heavens.

In the resonating applause that followed the dramatic conclusion of the auction, the record-breaking sale of Napoleon Bonaparte's bicorne hat at the Drouot auction house in Paris etched a new chapter in the annals of historical artifact transactions. The staggering price of 1,932,000 euros (US$2.11 million) not only exceeded initial estimates but also surpassed the previous benchmark set at Drouot in 2014. The auctioneer's spirited declaration, met with applause, encapsulated the fervor surrounding this major Napoleon symbol.

Jean-Pierre Osenat, the auctioneer, shed light on the profound significance of the black beaver felt hat, emphasizing its role as a key element in constructing Napoleon's iconic image—a man of communication who meticulously curated his public persona. The meticulous detail that Napoleon brought to the wearing of his hat, aligning its corners with his shoulders, further underscored his distinctive style and individuality.

This remarkable event adds another chapter to the ongoing saga of Napoleon's personal effects regularly gracing auction halls, with each item offering a tangible link to the legacy of the French emperor. The sale also echoes the fascination with historical artifacts, as demonstrated by the recent auction of a newly discovered Napoleon hat in 2021, complete with DNA evidence validating its provenance.

As the gavel fell, the transaction not only solidified the hat's status as a prized historical artifact but also affirmed the enduring allure of Napoleon Bonaparte, whose legacy continues to captivate collectors, historians, and enthusiasts alike. The hat's journey from an estimated valuation to a record-breaking sale price serves as a testament to the timeless intrigue surrounding the relics of one of history's most iconic figures. Reported by Ardee Napolitano, chronicled by Geert De Clercq, and edited by Andrew Heavens, this auction stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of Napoleon Bonaparte in the world of historical collectibles.