At an auction of the French emperor’s possessions on Sunday, a felt hat that belonged to Napoléon Bonaparte, which was tattered and faded, brought in $1.6 million.
An early valuation of nearly $870,000 was placed on the distinctive wide, black hat that Napoléon wore throughout his reign in France and wars in Europe in the 19th century. It is one of just a few such hats that are still in existence. It was the showpiece of a collection of artifacts accumulated by a French businessman who passed away last year and was auctioned off at Fontainebleau on Sunday.
Reports show the head of the Osenat auction house, Jean Pierre Osenat, announced a winner (who went unnamed) after the bidding skyrocketed. He said that the price for Napoleon’s hat, a significant emblem of the Napoleonic era, had reached 1.5 million euros.
Napoléon sported his hat with the ends pointed toward his shoulders, in contrast to the other officers who wore the caps with their wings facing back to front. It was a tactical advantage in battle, allowing his men to identify him as the commander easily.
According to a report, Napoleon created France’s civil and criminal codes, prefects, state representatives in each province, and high schools.
France’s heritage included Napoleon, a military genius. His decision to reinstate slavery in French colonies in 1802, after it was abolished in 1784, tarnishes his reputation today. He also caused years of murder and ruin in European and Egyptian battles.
Napoleon had been a ruler from 1799, and in 1804, he became emperor for ten years. In 1815, he was returned as emperor for three months.
Despite being exiled to the island of Elba in the Mediterranean and raising a new army by extraordinary means, he ultimately lost the pivotal battle of Waterloo on June 18, 2015, to a coalition of armies commanded by the British.
He became sick and died while confined at the British garrison of St. Helena in 1815.
In time, the remains of Napoleon were removed and laid to rest in Les Invalides, originally constructed by Louis XIV as a medical facility for ill soldiers.