Napoleon's engagement ring to Josephine auctions for $1.2m

A diamond and sapphire engagement ring that Napoleon Bonaparte gave to Josephine de Beauharnais has seen outstanding bids at Osenat auction house in France on March 24.

Napoleon Josephine engagement ring auction
Even after their divorce, Josephine remained friends with Napoleon, who said that the only thing that came between them was her debts

The ring easily surpassed its modest $20,000 high estimate by 5,900% to sell for $1.2m.

"In my wildest dreams, I did not think we would outsell the estimate by more than 47 times," the auction house's Emily Villane told GlobalPost.

"We based the estimates in our catalogue on the actual market value of the ring, minus Napoleon and Josephine provenance. It is not our job to tell bidders how much they should pay for the historical premium."

Napoleon Josephine engagement ring
The ring was bought when the young general had not yet reached the levels of wealth he would later acquire

The simple yet beautiful ring was given to Josephine when the soon-to-be emperor was still a general in the French army, and had not yet obtained the wealth and power of his later years.

She was the widow of French aristocrat Alexandre de Beauharnais and had held public affairs with France's leading politicians before Napoleon met her, yet the young general soon became infatuated.

Shortly after their first encounter, he wrote: "I awake full of you. Your image and the memory of last night's intoxicating pleasures has left no rest to my senses."

The auction was held to mark the 250th anniversary of Josephine's birth.

A collection of 50 of Napoleon's overtly romantic letters to Josephine were sold through the same auction house in 2010 for an impressive $1m, spelling promising results for the ring. Paul Fraser Collectibles has a superb selection of Napoleon-signed letters for sale, as well as authentic strands of his hair.

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