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Napoleon’s nightshirt pulled from auction

Ben McPartland · 24 Mar 2014, 13:19

Published: 24 Mar 2014 13:19 GMT+01:00

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The nightshirt, worn by Napoleon before he fell into a coma, and several other personal effects belonging to the Emperor were due to go under the hammer at Fontainebleau on Saturday.

They included several bandages, a small walking stick and a lock of the Emperor’s hair that were described by the auctioneer Jean-Christophe Chataignier as the “vestiges of the very end of Napoleon’s life”.

The nightshirt had been expected to sell for up to €40,000 and two sleeves from the shirt Napoleon was wearing when he died were estimated at between €8,000 and €10,000.

Dozens of potential buyers from across the world had come to the auction house in the hope of buying the historic belongings.  

But at the last minute descendants of Napoleon’s servant Achille Thomas Archambault, who had brought the items back to France from the island of St Helena, managed to obtain an injunction preventing the sale for fear that the objects would be taken abroad.

“They wanted this heritage to stay in France,” Horia Dazi-Masmi, a lawyer representing the relatives told Le Parisien newspaper.

In a statement the Osenat auction house said: “Certain people, including a former minister under the government of Dominique de Villepin are demanding, as joint owners of the property, that the sale is stopped.”

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In their defence the auction house argued that the seller had held on to the possessions for more than 45 years without anyone else making a claim on them. Osenat also threatened legal action against those behind the injunction for “hindering the auction”.

The items will now be kept in storage until an agreement can be reached over what to do with them.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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