Napoleon's pistols sold for 1.7 million euros at French auction

Two pistols that Napoleon Bonaparte once intended to use to kill himself were sold in France on Sunday for 1.69 million euros, the auction house said, with the government insisting that they stay in the country as 'national treasures'.

The identity of the buyer at the auction in Fontainebleau south of Paris of the finely adorned objects was not made public but the final sale price, with fees, was above the estimates of 1.2-1.5 million euros.

Ahead of the sale of the weapons, the national treasures commission of the French culture ministry had classified the objects as national treasures and placed a ban on their export, in a decision published in the government's official journal on Saturday.

The issuing of the export ban certificate opens a 30-month period during which the French government can make a purchase offer to the unidentified new owner, who has the right to refuse.

National treasure

Whatever its value and age, a cultural property qualified as a national treasure can leave France only temporarily, with a mandatory return.

"Being classified as a national treasure gives an incredible value to the object," said a representative of the Osenat auction house, asking not to be named.

The richly decorated guns inlaid with gold and silver feature the engraved image of Napoleon in full imperial pomp.

They are said to have almost been used to end the French ruler's life in 1814, when he was forced to give up power after foreign forces defeated his army and occupied Paris.

(with AFP)

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