Pistols Napoleon planned to use to take his own life sold in France for £1,400,000

A box with two pistols, which belonged to Emperor Napoleon I

A box with two pistols, which belonged to Emperor Napoleon I, during the preview before their auction, in Paris (Picture: AFP)

Two pistols owned Napoleon Bonaparte, with which he once planned to take his own life, have been sold at auction in France for £1.4 million.

The weapons, which could have altered the course of history, bear witness to the the darkest moment in the French emperor’s life.

Created by the Parisian gunmaker Louis-Marin Gosset, they had been expected to fetch between £1 million and £1.2 million.

They were sold at the Osenat auction house on Sunday, next to the Fontainebleau palace where Napoleon attempted to kill himself following his abdication in 1814.

They had been expected to fetch between £1 million and £1.2 million (Picture: AFP)

The lavishly decorated weapons inlaid with gold and silver feature the engraved image of the military and political leader, who rose to prominence during the French Revolution.

They are said to have almost been used to end his life in 1814, when he was forced to give up power after foreign forces defeated his army and occupied Paris.

‘After the defeat of the French campaign, he was totally depressed and wanted to commit suicide with these weapons but his grand squire removed the powder,’ auction house expert Jean-Pierre Osenat said ahead of the sale.

Auctioneer Jean-Pierre Osenat said that the ‘image of the emperor at his lowest point’ was being sold alongside the objects.

A staff member shows a detail of one of the two pistols (Picture: AFP)

Napoleon memorabilia is highly sought after among collectors.

One of his famous ‘bicorne’ black cocked hats with its blue, white and red trimmings sold for £1.6 million in November.

His legacy in modern-day France has seen a new wave of interest after the release of the biopic ‘Napoleon’ in 2023, by director Ridley Scott and starring Joaquin Phoenix as the emperor. 

The identity of the buyer at the auction has not yet been made public.

Ahead of the sale of the pistols, the national treasures commission of the French culture ministry had classified them as national treasures and banned their export, in a decision published in the government’s official journal on Saturday.

The issuing of the export ban certificate opens a 30-month period during which the French government can make a purchase offer to the unidentified new owner, who has the right to refuse.

‘Being classified as a national treasure gives an incredible value to the object,’ said a representative of the Osenat auction house, asking not to be named.

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Source:: Metro


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