An iconic hat, once worn by Napoleon Bonaparte, has fetched a record amount in Paris. It is believed that there are only twenty specimens worldwide, many of which are in private collections.
The black bicorne beaver felt hat, one of twenty surviving specimens belonging to the French emperor, is known for its side-striving attire, a distinctive style that Napoleon created to distinguish himself on the battlefield.
The increased retail price is partly attributed to the excitement surrounding the recent release of Ridley Scott's Napoleon biopic, starring Joaquin Phoenix. Initially estimated at €600,000 to €800,000, the final sale price surpassed the previous record price of €1.8 million. This amount was paid for another hat in 2014. During the recent auction by Veilinghuis Drouot, the hat eventually went under the hammer for € 1.9 million.
The hat was sold along with other items belonging to Napoleon at a special Napoleon memorabilia auction. A silver plate and a wooden toiletry bag that he owned with razors, toothbrush and scissors also had to go to the auction hammer.
Auctioneer Jean Pierre Osenat, however, believes that the beaver felt hat is a true holy grail: 'People recognised this hat everywhere. When they saw him on the battlefield, they knew immediately that Napoleon was present. But also in private: he always had the hat on his head or in his hand and very occasionally he threw it on the ground. That was the image – the symbol of the emperor."
— Reuters (@Reuters) November 20, 2023