Napoleon’s laurel crown leaf smashes estimate

A gold leaf that once adorned Napoleon’s laurel crown was the undisputed star of Osenat’s November 19 auction in Fontainebleau.

It went for $733,343, a 316% increase on its $176,000 estimate.

Napoleon leaf crown

Up 316% on estimate

Napoleon wore the laurel, based on the one worn by Roman emperors, on his way to the ceremony at Notre Dame Cathedral in 1804.

At the right moment, he replaced it with the Crown of Charlemagne.  

Ordinarily, this would have been the task of the Pope – who was in attendance. By crowning himself, Napoleon projected the message that he was the highest power in France.

This is one of six leaves Napoleon asked to be removed from the laurel.

The diminutive dictator found it a little too heavy.

Martin-Guillaume Biennais, the artisan who designed the crown, gifted one leaf to each of his six daughters.

It’s unclear just how many of the leaves have survived. This one appears to have been passed down in Biennais’ family as an heirloom. The laurel itself was melted down a few years later. 

There has been an explosion of interest in Napoleon memorabilia over the past decade, particularly in France.

The record remains $6.5m, set for his gold parade sword in 2007.

We have a unique piece of memorabilia from Napoleon’s nemesis. Intrigued? Click here to find out more.

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