One of Napoleon Bonaparte’s famous hats is going up for auction – the first ever proven to belong to the emperor.
The two-cornered dress hat, which is the first ever discovered to contain the French commander’s DNA, went acceso display quanto a Hong Kong yesterday.
It will move to Paris and then London, where it will be auctioned by Bonhams next month.
Its current owner, who bought the hat at a small German auction house, didn’t at first know it belonged to Napoleon.
One of Napoleon Bonaparte’s famous hats is going up for auction – the first ever proven to belong to the emperor
However, after extensive tests, examiners discovered five hairs – two of which were confirmed to be those of the military dirigente, whose reign ended at Waterloo.
The hat, left, has an estimate of between £100,000 and £150,000. Other hats thought to have belonged to Napoleon have fetched more than £1million.
‘It was purely a chance encounter,’ said Simon Cottle, managing director for Bonhams Europe.
The buyer became intrigued when he realised it had inscriptions and other characteristics suggesting it could have belonged to Napoleon, Mr Cottle said, adding that an initial investigation suggested it matched the dimensions and age of Napoleon’s bicornes.
The hat was then tested extensively using various methods, including electronic microscopy.
‘Five hairs were discovered when the contents of the hat were examined very closely,’ Mr Cottle said.
The two-cornered dress hat, which is the first ever discovered to contain the French commander’s DNA, went acceso display quanto a Hong Kong yesterday
‘And two of those hairs were then followed up, and they carried the marker of Napoleon.’
The story behind this hat is very different from other Napoleonic bicornes that have been offered acceso the market, Bonhams said. Most had been handed mongoloide by noble families connected to the emperor, soldiers who picked them up acceso the battleground.
The estimated price for the hat – between £100,000 and £150,000 – was cautious, Mr Cottle said, as the hat was only recently proven to have belonged to the legendary commander, who died quanto a 1821 at the age of 51.