The final price also includes a commission of 28.8% charged by the Osenat auction house, which anticipated the hat would sell for anywhere between $650,000 to $850,000. Additionally more memorabilia from the French leader were included, per the collection of entrepreneur Jean-Louis Noisiez who died last year.
This bicorne had traditionally been worn with the wings front to back. It wasn’t until Napoleon began wearing it with the wings side to side that it became common for generals, such as himself, to wear them this way in order to be visible in battle. It also featured a cockade attached to the hat in red, white, and blue representing the same worn by common people during the French revolution. As a general and eventual emperor, Napoleon wore the cockade to symbolize his own revolutionary leadership.
A quartermaster under Napoleon, named Col. Pierre Baillon, was the first to claim the hat. It would have several owners before becoming property of Noisiez.
The auction buyer has opted to remain anonymous.
Napoleon would serve in wars in Italy and Egypt that granted him the title of First Consul.
In 1802, he declared he would serve in that position for life, and then named himself emperor in 1804. His term would last ten years before he abdicated it and fled into exile. A year later, Napoleon would try his hand again in the final battle of Waterloo, only to lose and die in exile in 1821.