Rare pistols and sword belonging to Bonaparte sell at US auction for €2.65m

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A collection of five firearms and a sword carried by France's former emperor Napoléon Bonaparte during a 1799 coup have been sold for nearly $3 million (€2.65 million) by the Illinois-based Rock Island Auction Company.

The lot was sold on the 3rd of December via phone to a buyer who has remained anonymous, Rock Island Auction company president Kevin Hogan told French news agency AFP.

The sword and five ornamented pistols had initially been valued at $1.5 million to $3.5 million ( €1.3 million - €3.1 million)

"With the $2.87 million (€2.53 million) price tag the buyer of the Napoléon Garniture is taking home a very rare piece of history," Hogan said. "We are pleased to have provided the opportunity for them to acquire such a historic object."

The sword, with its scabbard, was the "crown jewel" of the collection, according to the auctioneers.

The weapon was made by Nicolas-Noel Boutet, who was director of the state arms factory in Versailles.

After being crowned emperor, Napoléon is believed to have presented the sword to general Jean-Andoche Junot, but the general's wife later was forced to sell it to pay off debts.

It was then recovered by a London museum. A US collector was its last owner, but the man recently died, according to the auction house.

In May, France celebrated the bicentennial of Napoléon's death.

The famed Corsican is one of the most divisive figures in French history, with his huge contribution to the creation of the modern state set against his imperialism and war-mongering.

Josephine's jewels

Meanwhile, a pair of "highly rare" centuries-old headpieces encrusted with jewels and believed to have belonged to Napoléon's wife, French empress Josephine Bonaparte, sold at auction in London Tuesday for more than €670,000.

The two tiaras — offered from a private British collection dating back at least 150 years — are thought to have been given to Napoléon's wife by his sister Caroline early in the 19th century, according to Sotheby's.

Both headpieces, each part of a parure — a set of matching jewellery designed to be worn together — are set with gemstones engraved with classical heads, several of which are possibly ancient, the auction house said.

(with AFP)

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