The dress sword and five pistols used by Napoleon Bonaparte during a coup in 1799 have recently been sold for more than USD 2.8 million at an auction. The Illinois-based Rock Island Auction Company has confirmed the news, saying in a statement that the weapons of the de facto leader of the French Republic who served as the First Consul from 1799 to 1804 were sold to an anonymous buyer.
President of the Auction House Kevin Hogan said that the initial value of Napoleon's sword and five ornamented pistols was USD 1.5-3.5 million. However, the buyer agreed to pay USD 2.87 million "for taking home a very rare piece of history". He informed the press that the sword, with its scabbard, was the most important item, as far as its historical value was concerned. According to Hogan, Nicolas-Noel Boutet, the Director of the State Arms Factory in Versailles, had made the sword for Napoleon.
After becoming the French Emperor, Napoleon reportedly presented the sword to General Jean-Andoche Junot. Later, General Junot's wife sold it in order to pay off debts. Later, a London Museum recovered the sword, and a US collector was its last owner. After the death of the owner, the auction house received the sword. "We are pleased to have provided the opportunity for buyers to acquire such a historic object," stressed Hogan.
Meanwhile, Sotheby's sold a pair of headpieces for more than USD 760,000. According to the British-founded US multinational corporation headquartered in New York City, the 'highly rare' headpieces, encrusted with jewels, belonged to NapolÃ©on's wife and French Empress Josephine Bonaparte.
In a statement, one of the world's largest brokers of fine and decorative art, jewellery, and collectibles stated that NapolÃ©on's sister Caroline had gifted the two tiaras, dating back at least 150 years, to Empress Josephine early in the 19th Century. This is basically a set of matching jewellery designed to be worn together. The Auction House stated that the two tiaras are set with gemstones engraved with classical heads.
Senior Sotheby's official Kristian Spofforth said: "These majestic jewels mounted with cameos and intaglios certainly evoke the style of the grand Empress Josephine, her rank as wife of NapolÃ©on Bonaparte, her impeccable taste and her interest in the classical world." Spofforth also said that the jewels were mounted for Empress Josephine in around 1808 in the neo-classical style.
It may be noted that France celebrated the bicentennial of Napoleon's death in May 2021.