Napoleon’s pistols auctioned for €1.69m

Two pistols once owned by French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, which he intended to use for suicide, have been auctioned for €1.69 million (£1.4 million). The firearms, crafted by Parisian gunsmith Louis-Marin Gosset, were expected to sell for between €1.2 million and €1.5 million. They were sold at Osenat auction house on Sunday, near the Fontainebleau palace where Napoleon attempted to end his life after abdicating in 1814.

Recently declared national treasures by France’s culture ministry, the pistols’ export has been banned. The French government now has 30 months to make a purchase offer to the unnamed buyer. The pistols, adorned with gold and silver, and featuring an engraved profile of Napoleon, were reportedly intended for his suicide on April 12, 1814, after his army’s defeat. However, his grand squire, Armand de Caulaincourt, removed the powder, and Napoleon took poison instead but survived. Napoleon later gifted the pistols to Caulaincourt, who passed them down to his descendants.

The sale also included the pistols’ original box and accessories such as a powder horn and tamping rods. Auctioneer Jean-Pierre Osenat noted that the “image of Napoleon at his lowest point” was part of the sale. Napoleon memorabilia is highly coveted, with one of his iconic tricorne hats fetching €1.9 million in November.

Napoleon briefly returned to power in 1815 after being exiled to Elba, only to be defeated at the Battle of Waterloo. He died in 1821 following his second exile to the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic.

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