Copy of Napoleon's will auctions for $482,000 at Drouot

The only known copy of Napoleon's will in private hands has sold with outstanding results at Paris' Drouot auction house on November 6.

Napoleon Death Bed painting
Horace Vernet's 1826 panting Napoleon on his Death Bed

The document includes two codicils, or amendments, detailing the French emperor's final wishes. It sold for an impressive $482,082, making a 200% increase on its $160,500 estimate. The buyer, a private collector, wishes to remain anonymous.

The original document, which is written in Napoleon's illegible handwriting, is stored in France's national archives. This example was written on April 16, 1821 - 19 days before Napoleon died in British captivity while exiled on St Helena - by an aide.

The document records Napoleon's famous quote: "I want my ashes to rest on the banks of the Seine, among the French people whom I loved so much." The ashes were instead interned in Paris' Invalides monument nearly two decades after his death.

The copy of the will was given to the emperor's aide General Montholon, with Napoleon fearing that his British captors would steal all of his belongings after his death. He bequeathed his few remaining possessions to a number of beneficiaries with the condition that they should not be sold for profit at any time.

This was, of course, largely ignored and collectible items from Napoleon are some of the most valuable on the current market. A table that Napoleon is believed to have eaten his breakfast at while exiled in St Helena sold with a 600% increase on estimate in June - such is the popularity of his memorabilia.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has some fantastic Napoleon handwritten letters for sale, as well as an authentic strand of hair from the Emperor of the French.

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