Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Pistols that Napoleon was supposed to use to commit suicide sell for €1.69 million


Image source, Osinat Auction House

Comment on the photo, Napoleon later gave the pistols to his valet Armand de Caulaincourt, who passed them on to his descendants.

  • author, Catherine Armstrong
  • Role, BBC News

Two pistols owned by French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, with which he once intended to kill himself, have sold at auction for €1.69m (£1.4m).

The weapons, made by Parisian gunsmith Louis Marine Gosset, were expected to sell for between €1.2 million and €1.5 million.

The pieces were sold at the Osenat auction house on Sunday, next to the Palace of Fontainebleau, where Napoleon attempted suicide after his abdication in 1814.

The sale of the pistols comes after the French Ministry of Culture recently classified them as national treasures and banned their export.

This means the French government now has 30 months to make a purchase offer to the new owner, whose name has not been revealed. It also means the pistols can only leave France temporarily.

The cannons are inlaid with gold and silver, and bear an engraved image of Napoleon himself in profile.

It is said that he wanted to use it to kill himself on the night of April 12, 1814 after his army was defeated by foreign forces which meant that he had to give up power.

However, his chief henchman Armand de Caulaincourt removed the gunpowder from the guns, so Napoleon took poison instead, but survived.

The sale also included the original pistol box and various accessories including a powder horn and various powder tamping rods.

“A portrait of Napoleon at the lowest point of his life” was being offered for sale alongside other items, said auctioneer Jean-Pierre Osenat.

The historical leader returned to power in 1815 after being exiled to the Mediterranean island of Elba, but was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo.

He died in 1821 after his second exile – this time to the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic.