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Napoleon's Historic Pistols Fetch Record Price at Auction Amid Government Efforts to Preserve National Treasures

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Napoleon Bonaparte's historic pistols sold for 1.69 million euros at a French auction, despite government efforts to keep them in the country. Learn about the significance of these national treasures.

Napoleon's Historic Pistols Fetch Record Price at Auction

Two pistols that once belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte were sold at an auction in France for a staggering 1.69 million euros ($1,800,000), despite the French Government's efforts to prevent their departure from the country. The sale was held in Fontainebleau, just outside Paris, during a two-day auction organized by the Osenat and Rossini houses, which specialize in Napoleonic-era artifacts. The final price, which included taxes and commissions, far exceeded the estimated pre-tax value of between 1.2 and 1.5 million euros.

The pistols, crafted by renowned gunsmith Louis-Marin Gosset, are made from luxurious materials such as walnut root, ebony, green velvet, and pearls. They come with their original accessories and a richly decorated chest. These weapons hold significant historical value, as Napoleon considered using them to commit suicide after his defeat in 1814 before he was exiled to the island of Elba. Instead, he gifted them to General Armand de Coulaincourt, Duke of Vicenza, on the night of April 12, 1814.

French Government's Efforts to Preserve National Treasures

Due to their immense historical importance, the French Government has classified the pistols as national treasures. An order issued by the Ministry of Culture, published on July 3, denied the export certificate for the pistols. This decision opens a 30-month period during which French authorities can make a purchase offer to the current owners. If the state abandons the acquisition, the guns may leave the country. The Ministry of Culture aims to add the pistols to the national collections, alongside the saber that Napoleon also gifted to General Coulaincourt.

Jean-Pierre Osenat, an expert from the Osenat auction house, highlighted the emotional significance of the pistols. He explained that after Napoleon's defeat, he was deeply depressed and intended to end his life with these weapons. However, his loyal grand squire, Caulaincourt, removed the powder from the pistols, preventing the act. Napoleon then attempted to poison himself, but survived. In gratitude for Caulaincourt's loyalty, Napoleon gifted him the pistols and a sword, which have remained with Caulaincourt's family until now.

The auction houses have not disclosed the identity of the buyer but have deemed the sale a success. The classification of the pistols as national treasures has added incredible value to these historic artifacts, ensuring their preservation and recognition as significant pieces of French heritage.

Clam Reports
Refs: | Le Parisien | Clarin |

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