HATS OFF: A hat worn by Napoleon Bonaparte during his time as emperor of France sold on Sunday for a record 1.93 million euros, or $2.1 million, at an auction in Fontainebleau, just south of Paris.
The bicorne, or two-cornered hat, was initially estimated between 600,000 to 800,000 euros. It is one of the 20 authenticated hats worn by Napoleon out of the 120 he was estimated to own during his reign.
The sale surpassed the 1.88 million euros reached for another one of his hats worn during the Battle of Marengo in 1800. That hat had been put up for sale by the royal family of Monaco, and went to a South Korean buyer in 2014.
The hat was in traditional black felt, with a ribbon of the French flag’s bleu, blanc, rouge. The hat was created by the house of Poupard in Paris’ Palais-Royal, which became Poupard & Delaunay in 1811. Regulations at the time stipulated that 12 hats must be available to Napoleon at all times.
The hat was part of a lot that included a white chambray nightshirt embroidered with the initial “N” and topped with the imperial crown, a pair of cream colored leather gloves embroidered with “N” and decoration of laurel branches, and a handkerchief, as well as a dinnerplate used during the battle of Waterloo. A vanity case that included a silver toothbrush, razor and scissors went for 60,000 euros.
Napoleon’s unconventional placement of the hat became his signature style. He wore the hat sideways so that the two corners were aligned with his shoulders, making a more distinguishable silhouette on the battlefield, whereas officers wore the hat facing forward as intended.
The headgear was last owned by French businessman Jean-Louis Noisiez, founder of location management and logistics company GSF Groupe, who died last year. The auction house said the hat had been held by Col. Pierre Baillon, a quartermaster under Napoleon, and had been on display at the Musée de l’Empéri in Provence from 1967 to 2002 before it made its way to Noisiez’s collection.
The auction house Osenat declined to disclose information about the buyer.
Napoleonic style is getting screen time with Ridley Scott’s biopic “Napoleon” film starring Joaquin Phoenix and Vanessa Kirby, which will be released Wednesday and then available on Netflix.