Mon 06 September 2021:
On Monday, auction house Bonhams in Hong Kong previewed a recently discovered hat with DNA evidence indicating it belonged to the great European statesman and general Napoleon Bonaparte.
Described by Bonhams as the “first hat to bear the Emperor’s DNA”, it is on display in Hong Kong before it moves to Paris and then London, where it will be auctioned on October 27.
The hat, which is one of the classic bicornes typically seen in portrayals of Napoleon on the battlefield, was purchased by its current owner at a modest German auction shop that had no idea it had belonged to the emperor at the time.
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“It was purely a chance encounter,” said Simon Cottle, managing director for Bonhams Europe.
The buyer was interested when he saw it had inscriptions and other traits that suggested it could have belonged to Napoleon, according to Cottle, who added that preliminary research indicated it matched the dimensions and age of Napoleon’s bicornes.
The hat was then thoroughly evaluated using a variety of techniques, including electronic microscopy.
“Five hairs were discovered when the contents of the hat were examined very closely,” Cottle said. “And two of those hairs were then followed up, and they carried the marker of Napoleon.”
According to Cottle, the tale behind this hat is significantly different from that of other Napoleonic bicornes on the market. He said that the majority of them had been passed down through the emperor’s noble families or troops who had picked them up on the battlefield.
The projected price for the hat – between 100,000 and 150,000 pounds – was conservative, according to Cottle, because the hat was just recently verified to be the emperor’s.
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