A hat once worn by Napoleon has sold for a record €1.9m at Paris auction

Napoleon Bonaparte's hat

A hat that once belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte has been sold for a whopping €1.932 million (£1.69 million) at an auction in Paris, France.

The hat is one of an estimated remaining 20 that once belonged to the French emperor. Across his lifetime, he is said to have owned 120.

The bicorne black beaver hat is possibly what Napoleon Bonaparte was best known for, after famously wearing them sideways so that he would be recognisable on the battlefield.

This particular felt hat was valued between €600,000 and €800,000 (£525,850-£701,131), the BBC reports.

Napoleon Bonaparte's hat
This particular felt hat was valued between €600,000 and €800,000. (Getty Images)

A number of Napoleon memorabilia pieces were sold at the Paris auction, after their owner, an industrialist Col Pierre Baillon, died last year. 

Other items included firearms, swords, coins, a mahogany vanity case containing razors, scissors, and a sterling silver toothbrush he used, and a nightshirt he wore on the isle of St Helena, where he was exiled and eventually died in 1821.

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The hat, though, was the star item of the auction.

It is thought that the final sale price was so much higher than the estimated value thanks to the hype surrounding Ridley Scott’s Napoleon Bonaparte biopic starring Joaquin Phoenix, which is set to hit cinemas later this week.

The film, which has received mixed reviews from critics so far, clocks in at two hours and 38 minutes, and traces the rise and fall of Bonaparte, viewed through the lens of his relationship with his wife Josephine (Vanessa Kirby).

While some critics have praised the film as a spectacular interpretation of the historical figure, others have complained that it comes across as rather anti-French.

When asked about this by the BBC, Scott boldly retorted: “The French don’t even like themselves. The audience that I showed it to in Paris, they loved it.”

Auctioneer Jean Pierre Osenat has said that this hat, once owned by the French military commander has been kept in such good condition because it had been owned by the same family throughout the 19th century.

Before the auction, Osenat said of the hat: “People recognised this hat everywhere. When they saw it on the battlefields, they knew without a doubt that Napoleon was there.

“And when in private, he always had it on his head or he had it in his hand, and sometimes he threw it on the ground. That was the image – the symbol of the emperor.”