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He once planned to use them to kill himself; Napoleon Bonaparte’s pistols auctioned for 1.69 million euros

Two pistols that former French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte intended to use for suicide were sold at an auction in Fontainebleau for 1.69 million euros ($1.8 million), exceeding the estimated price range of 1.2-1.5 million euros. The buyer’s identity remains undisclosed.
The guns, adorned with gold and silver inlays, feature a carved image of Napoleon in full imperial pomp.According to auction house expert Jean-Pierre Osenat, these weapons were nearly used by Napoleon to end his life in 1814 after his army’s defeat and the occupation of Paris by foreign forces. However, his grand squire Armand de Caulaincourt removed the powder, preventing the suicide attempt. Napoleon later gave the pistols to his squire as a token of gratitude for his loyalty.

A staff member shows a detail of one of the two pistols, which belonged to Emperor Napoleon I, during the preview before their auction, in Paris on June 18, 2024.

The French government has classified them as national treasures, placing a ban on their export.
The export ban certificate issued by the French culture ministry’s national treasures commission initiates a 30-month period during which the government can make a purchase offer to the new owner, who has the right to refuse. However, a cultural property classified as a national treasure can only leave France temporarily and must be returned.
“Being classified as a national treasure gives an incredible value to the object,” said a representative of the Osenat auction house.
Napoleon memorabilia is highly sought after by collectors, with one of his famous “bicorne” black cocked hats selling for 1.9 million euros in November.
Following his abdication, Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba off the Italian coast. He later made a dramatic return to France, but his career ended definitively with his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Napoleon spent his final years in exile on the island of St Helena, where he died six years later.

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