Europe

South Korean buys Napoleon's hat for 1.9m euros

Napoleon's hat is set up prior to its auction in Fontainebleau, Nov 16 Image copyright AFP
Image caption The hat is known as a bicorne on account of its two points

A South Korean collector has paid 1.9m euros ($2.4m; £1.5m) at auction for a hat worn by French Emperor Napoleon.

The two-pointed hat, a style widely worn by military officers at the time, was apparently donned by Napoleon during the Battle of Marengo in 1800.

It was later offered as a gift to Napoleon's veterinarian.

The Monaco royal family put the hat on sale, along with hundreds of other items of Napoleon memorabilia, at the auction in Fontainebleau, near Paris.

The collection was put together by Prince Louis II of Monaco, the great-grandfather of current monarch Prince Albert.

The family are selling the pieces to fund a palace restoration.

The auction house listed the hat with an expected selling price of between 300,000 and 400,000 euros, but experts had predicted the bidding would go far higher.

The South Korean buyer eventually paid 1.5m euros, with added fees bringing the final price almost 1.9m euros.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The South Korean buyer paid much more than the expected price

The bicorne is one of only 19 of Napoleon's hats thought to still exist - the emperor is said to have worn some 120 similar hats during his career.

Although the two-pointed hat was a common feature of military uniform, Napoleon wore his sideways, apparently to make him more visible on the battlefield.

Napoleon declared himself emperor in 1804 and waged war with other European powers, conquering much of the continent, before his final defeat in 1815.

Image copyright EPA

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