Napoleon Bonaparte’s iconic bicorne hat, worn during his reign as the French emperor, achieved a remarkable sale at a recent French auction, fetching nearly two million euros ($2.1 million). The prestigious Osenat auction house conducted the sale, surpassing its own previous record set in 2014. The bicorne, adorned with Napoleon’s signature black color and French flag insignia, garnered global attention from collectors. The auction featured items from the late businessman Jean-Louis Noisiez’s collection, including a Legion of Honour medal and silver spurs owned by Napoleon, all of which exceeded initial estimates.
The final price for the bicorne hat, totaling over double the estimated value and nearly four times the reserve price, demonstrated the immense interest in Napoleon memorabilia. Auctioneers declined to disclose the identity or nationality of the buyer, who participated in the spirited bidding. The hat, last owned by Jean-Louis Noisiez, who passed away the previous year, holds historical significance as part of the emperor’s image during a pivotal period of his rule.
Napoleon’s distinct fashion choice, wearing the hat sideways, not only contributed to his unique silhouette but also served a practical purpose on the battlefield. This particular hat was worn by Napoleon during the middle years of his reign. The emperor, who rose to prominence during the French Revolution, donned the bicorne in a manner easily recognizable by his troops. Despite owning around 120 such hats over 15 years, most have been lost to history.
The successful auction coincided with the upcoming release of a biopic on Napoleon directed by Ridley Scott. The film explores Napoleon’s life, showcasing massive-scale battles across Europe and delving into his complex relationship with Josephine. Actor Joaquin Phoenix, who plays Napoleon, described the emperor as “socially awkward” yet “romantic.” Phoenix noted the challenges of researching Napoleon’s life, citing conflicting historical accounts and emphasizing the film’s focus on inspiration rather than rigid historical accuracy.
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