| 23 July 2024, Tuesday |

Hat worn by Napoleon fetches $1.6 million at auction

A faded and cracked felt hat worn by Napoléon Bonaparte fetched $1.6 million at an auction Sunday of the French emperor’s belongings.

Yes, $1.6 million.

The signature broad, black hat — one of a handful still in existence that Napoléon wore when he ruled 19th century France and waged war in Europe — was initially valued at 600,000 to 800,000 euros ($650,000-870,000). It was the centerpiece of Sunday’s auction in Fontainebleau of memorabilia collected by a French industrialist who died last year, The Associated Press reported.

But the bidding quickly jumped higher and higher until Jean Pierre Osenat, president of the Osenat auction house, designated the winner.

‘’We are at 1.5 million (euros) for Napoleon’s hat … for this major symbol of the Napoleonic epoch,” he said. The name of the winning bidder was not released.

While other officers customarily wore their hats with the wings facing front to back, Napoléon wore his with the ends pointing toward his shoulders. The style — known as “en bataille,” or in battle — made it easier for his troops to spot their leader in combat.

The hat on sale was first recovered by Col. Pierre Baillon, a quartermaster under Napoléon, according to the auctioneers. The hat then passed through many hands before industrialist Jean-Louis Noisiez acquired it.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat