• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
France buys up Forbes' mammoth Napoleon collection
Photo: AFP

France buys up Forbes' mammoth Napoleon collection

AFP · 7 Mar 2016, 07:28

Published: 07 Mar 2016 07:28 GMT+01:00

US billionaire and francophile Christopher Forbes' collection of artifacts from the life of Napoleon III and Napoleon Bonaparte's wedding certificate went under the hammer over the weekend, drawing numerous buyers and museums, French auction house Osenat said Sunday.

"Ninety-nine percent" of the collection -- which included some 1,300 letters and manuscripts, and more than 500 paintings -- sold during the two-day auction, Osenat said.

"Forty lots were purchased or pre-empted" by museums, including the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, the neighbouring National Museum of the Legion of Honour and the National Archives.

The French government has a "right of pre-emption" enabling it to purchase items that it deems should remain in France.

The certificate from Napoleon Bonaparte's secret religious wedding to Josephine in 1804 sold for 32,500 euros ($35,700).

The document is signed and sealed by Cardinal Joseph Fesch, who presided over the clandestine wedding that took place at the behest of Pope Pius VII as a condition for his presence at Napoleon's grandiose coronation.

Among other notable pieces up for sale included a painting of the Empress Eugenie surrounded by her ladies in waiting, which sold for 161,400 euros.

The two large portraits of Napoleon III and the empress by German painter Franz Xaver Winterhalter went for 96,205 euros.

The personal belongings of the imperial family were also up for auction, with court dress worn by Napoleon III selling for 9,756 euros.

Forbes, a frequent presence at exclusive auctions, could have sold the collection in New York or London, but instead chose the Osenat auction house which specialises in France's First and Second Empires.

Story continues below…

Osenat is based in Fontainebleau, south of Paris, the seat of French monarchs from the medieval Louis VII to Napoleon III, who reigned from 1852 to 1870.

A total estimated value of the collection and individual items has not been given.

Forbes, who maintains a chateau in Normandy and founded the American Friends of the Louvre, developed his passion for Napoleon III after his father offered him a portrait of the emperor when he was 16.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
US issues travel alert for France ahead of Euro 2016
Photo: AFP

The US has warned its citizens that France is a potential terror target during Euro 2016.

France lets widow have child with dead husband's sperm
An illustration of intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Photo: Wellcome Images/Flickr

A French court has ruled that the semen of a dead man can be used for artificial insemination.

French rail strikes to hit around half of train services
Photo: AFP

A rolling strike by French rail workers will begin on Tuesday evening with estimates suggesting around half of the train services will be not be running.

IN PICTURES: Wild weather pummels France
Submerged cars in the flooded town of Bruay-la-Buissiere, near Lens, northern France. All photos: AFP

Heavy rains have left submerged cars and flooded villages across France, and even breached the banks on the Seine River.

Paris to build humanitarian camp to welcome migrants
A new unofficial migrant camp in the north of Paris. Photo: AFP

Paris will soon be home to an official migrant camp that meets UN standards.

Paris has wettest May since 1873 (but Brittany stays dry)
Photos: AFP

Have you noticed it's been raining a lot in Paris in May? In fact it's been chucking it down more than in any other month of May for 143 years.

Is this France's best tourist attraction yet (for adults)?
Photo: AFP

Everything you need to know about France's new attraction: the world's biggest wine theme park, or a "Disneyland for adults".

French economy hit by drop in consumer prices
Photo: AFP

France's consumer prices have fallen, leaving the country stuck in a deflationary spiral.

France to put €1 billion into improving teachers' pay
Photo: AFP

France's teachers are soon to take home a bit of extra cash each month.

What's on in France: Ten great things to do in June
Photo: AFP

From music to car racing to food glorious food there is plenty to keep everyone entertained in France in June.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
National
How you'll be affected by France's ongoing strikes
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Features
What to expect when working in a bar in Paris
National
Violent storms in France: How to avoid being struck by lightning
National
Which of France's strikes could affect Euro 2016?
'You're not welcome': French police chief warns English yobs
How to avoid running out of fuel if you're coming to France
National
The French fuel crisis for dummies: 27 key questions
National
The trials and tribulations of moving to rural France
National
Five free smartphone apps to help you find petrol in France
Culture
Paris: Street artist makes the Louvre pyramid disappear
Interactive map: Where to find petrol in France
Who is the French union in a 'fight to the death' with the government?
Society
Opinion: Why the French are absolutely right to go on strike
National
Here's why both sides despise France's labour reforms
National
Who is really to blame for the fuel crisis in France?
National
Here are the parts of France hardest hit by the fuel shortages
Travel
It will soon be time to say 'au revoir' to the Paris Metro ticket
Culture
Revealed: The ultimate sex map of France
National
Migrants at Calais camp given dignity in death
International
How good is security at Charles de Gaulle airport?
Culture
How to make a traditional French cassoulet
Culture
IN PICS: Commuter trains in Paris get royal makeover
International
Terror attack 'likeliest cause' of missing EgyptAir plane
2,736
jobs available