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Sword carried by Napoleon in 1799 coup sold at US auction for $3.8 million

NEW YORK (AFP) – The dress sword carried by Napoleon Bonaparte when he staged a coup in 1799 and five of his other firearms have sold at auction for more than US$2.8 million (S$3.8 million), US auctioneers announced on Tuesday (Dec 7).

The lot, which was put up for sale by the Illinois-based Rock Island Auction Company, was sold on Dec 3 via phone to a buyer who has remained anonymous, said company president Kevin Hogan.

The sword and five ornamented pistols had initially been valued at US$1.5 million to US$3.5 million.

With the US$2.8 million sale, “the buyer of the Napoleon garniture is taking home a very rare piece of history”, Mr Hogan said.

The sword, with its scabbard, was the crown jewel of the collection, according to the auctioneers.

The weapon was made by Nicolas-Noel Boutet, who was director of the state arms factory in Versailles.

After being crowned emperor, Napoleon is believed to have presented the sword to General Jean-Andoche Junot, but the general’s wife was later forced to sell it to pay off debts.

It was then recovered by a London museum. A collector in the United States was its last owner, but the man recently died, according to the auction house.

In May, France celebrated the bicentennial of Napoleon’s death.

The famed Corsican is one of the most divisive figures in French history, with his huge contribution to the creation of the modern state set against his imperialism and war-mongering.

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