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Napoléon's hat sells for $2.1 million at French auction

Napoleon's hat sold for $2.1 million at auction. The iconic bicorne was a symbol of the Napoleonic era.

A bicorne hat worn by Napoléon Bonaparte was recently sold at an auction for a staggering $2.1 million. This faded and cracked felt hat was one of a few remaining hats that Napoléon wore during his rule over 19th-century France and his military campaigns in Europe. Initially valued at 600,000 to 800,000 euros, the bidding for this iconic piece quickly escalated, ultimately reaching an astounding $2.1 million. The auction took place in Fontainebleau and featured a collection of items belonging to a French industrialist who passed away last year.

The president of the Osenat auction house, Jean Pierre Osenat, announced the sale of Napoléon's hat, causing applause to erupt in the auction hall. The buyer, whose identity was not disclosed, will be required to pay 28.8% in commissions, bringing the total cost to 1.9 million euros. Napoléon was known for wearing his bicorne hat in a distinct manner, with the ends pointing toward his shoulders, a style known as "en bataille," or in battle, making it easier for his troops to identify him during combat.

The hat was initially recovered by Col. Pierre Baillon, a quartermaster under Napoléon, and passed through various hands before being acquired by the late industrialist Jean-Louis Noisiez. Noisiez spent over fifty years amassing a collection of Napoleonic memorabilia, firearms, swords, and coins, which was put up for auction following his passing in 2022. This sale coincided with the upcoming release of Ridley Scott's film ''Napoleon,'' starring Joaquin Phoenix, reigniting interest in the controversial French ruler.

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