It’s an iconic look from the former conqueror and ruler of much of Europe and it just sold at Sotheby’s Paris for $1.4 million USD. Not bad considering it had a floor value of $587,000 USD.
Napoleon had 120 of these felt hats made for him during his reign but unfortunately only about 20 to 30 of them remain. What happened to the rest? Who can know for sure? They might’ve been blown away on the battlefield, misplaced in Corsica even. We don’t know but there’s probably someone trying to track all of them down.
All the hats are made by the same hatter and were constructed with black felt and a silk interior as Napoleon was allergic to leather.
The one that just sold at auction is believed to be the hat Napoleon wore during his campaigns in 1807 that ended with the “Treaty of Tilsit.” This treaty was when Napoleon and Russian Tsar Alexander I divided up Europe.
Sotheby’s senior director, Thierry de Lachaise explained to ArtNews that “The next chapter in its [the hat’s] story started when the Emperor left Dresden, and his valet gave the hat to Jean-Baptiste Kuhnel, concierge of the Bruhl-Marcolini Palace.” Apparently from there the hat was purchased in 1814 by Scottish aristocrat, Sir Michael Shaw-Stewart. His family kept the hat until 2015 when it sold at Christie’s for $530,000 USD.
For those collectors itching to get one these hats, another one will go on auction next month at Bonhams.