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Napoleon's pistols sold in France for 1.7 mn euros: auctioneers

Napoleon's pistols sold in France for 1.7 mn euros: auctioneers

Monday, July 08, 2024, 14:43 GMT+7
Napoleon's pistols sold in France for 1.7 mn euros: auctioneers
The French government insisted that the pistols remain in France as national treasures.

Two pistols that Napoleon Bonaparte once intended to use to kill himself were sold in France on Sunday for 1.69 million euros ($1.8 million), the auction house said, with the government insisting that they stay in the country as national treasures.

The identity of the buyer at the auction in Fontainebleau south of Paris of the finely adorned objects was not made public but the final sale price, with fees, was above the estimates of 1.2-1.5 million euros.

Ahead of the sale of the weapons, the national treasures commission of the French culture ministry had classified the objects as national treasures and placed a ban on their export, in a decision published in the government's official journal on Saturday.

The issuing of the export ban certificate opens a 30-month period during which the French government can make a purchase offer to the unidentified new owner, who has the right to refuse.

Whatever its value and age, a cultural property qualified as a national treasure can leave France only temporarily, with a mandatory return.

"Being classified as a national treasure gives an incredible value to the object," said a representative of the Osenat auction house, asking not to be named.

The richly decorated guns inlaid with gold and silver feature the engraved image of Napoleon in full imperial pomp.

They are said to have almost been used to end the French ruler's life in 1814, when he was forced to give up power after foreign forces defeated his army and occupied Paris.

"After the defeat of the French campaign, he was totally depressed and wanted to commit suicide with these weapons but his grand squire removed the powder," auction house expert Jean-Pierre Osenat told AFP ahead of the sale.

Napoleon instead took poison but vomited and survived, and later gave the pistols to his squire to thank him for his loyalty, Osenat added.

Memorabilia of the emperor is extremely sought after among collectors.

One of his famous "bicorne" black cocked hats with its blue, white and red trimmings sold for 1.9 million euros in November.

Upon his abdication, Napoleon went into exile on the island of Elba off the coast of Italy.

He would soon make a dramatic return to France, only to have his career definitively ended when he was defeated by the British at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, dying in exile on the island of St Helena six years later.



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