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Napoleon Bonaparte’s Pistols Fetch $1.84 Million At Auction

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Two pistols once owned by French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, which he intended to use for suicide, have sold at auction for €1.69 million ($1.84 million). Crafted by Parisian gunsmith Louis-Marin Gosset, these firearms had been estimated to fetch between €1.2 million and €1.5 million ($1.31 million and $1.64 million).

The auction took place at the Osenat auction house on Sunday, near the Fontainebleau Palace, where Napoleon attempted to take his life after his abdication in 1814. Recently classified as national treasures by France’s culture ministry, the pistols are banned from export.

The French government now has 30 months to present a purchase offer to the unnamed buyer, and the pistols can only be temporarily taken out of France during this period. The guns are adorned with gold and silver and feature an engraved profile image of Napoleon.

On the night of April 12, 1814, after his army’s defeat forced him to abdicate, Napoleon planned to use these pistols. However, his grand squire, Armand de Caulaincourt, removed the powder from the guns, leading Napoleon to ingest poison instead, from which he survived. Napoleon later gave the pistols to Caulaincourt, who passed them down to his descendants.

The sale included the pistols’ original box and various accessories, such as a powder horn and tamping rods. Auctioneer Jean-Pierre Osenat remarked that the sale represented “the image of Napoleon at his lowest point.”

Napoleon memorabilia remains highly prized; in November, one of his iconic tricorne hats sold for €1.9 million ($2.07 million). Napoleon briefly returned to power in 1815 after exile to Elba but was ultimately defeated at the Battle of Waterloo and died in 1821 following his second exile to St. Helena.

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