Napoleon's hat and other collectibles go up for auction — to fund palace repairs in Monaco

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Carol Hills: Ever had a yard sale, or posted a few pieces of grandma’s china up on eBay? It’s a good way to make some extra cash from stuff you’ve got kicking around the house. Well, the prince of Monaco is doing the same thing. He’s selling over 1,000 items at auction this weekend, including a hat once owned by French emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. Prince Albert is parting with such treasures to help pay for refurbishments to the royal palace in Monaco. Arnaud de Gouvion Saint-Cyr is with the auction house that’s selling the historic gems this weekend. He says the hat being auctioned off is definitely one of Napoleon’s signatures chapeaus.


Arnaud de Gouvion Saint-Cyr: This hat has all the good dimensions of Napoleon’s hat. For example, Napoleon didn’t like leather inside his hat, and this one has no leather inside. This had been fetched by Joseph Giraud, which had been Napoleon’s veterinarian.


Hills: His veterinarian for his horses, I read.


De Gouvion Saint-Cyr: Yes. This has been kept in the family from the first French empire, and now we have this hat for sale.


Hills: The kind of things you’re selling this weekend are the kind of things we’re used to seeing in museums. In fact, they’ve been in a museum in Monaco. Is it unusual for these kinds of historical items to be sold on the open market?


De Gouvion Saint-Cyr: That’s not surprising, but usually we have got this coming from the families of the people who made the first French empire, and now we have the same kind of souvenirs but coming from a museum, which is quite impressive. But there is some very important pieces. Like the hat, we cannot find this, we say in French, in private hands. All the hats are in museums and cannot be sold because of French law. So, this is very, very impressive to have the real Napoleon hat and trying to sell it.


Hills: What’s the coolest thing up for sale this weekend? What would you buy if you had a few thousand Euros kicking around?


De Gouvion Saint-Cyr: I would like to buy, for example, one thing, which is for me the most impressive historical souvenir, which is the knife used by a German student who tried to kill Napoleon. It’s a normal knife, a kitchen knife. This knife could have changed the world, really.


Hills: What do you think it’s going to go for, that knife?


De Gouvion Saint-Cyr: The price? I think around 30,000 Euro. That’s not the most valuable souvenir. There are other valuable souvenirs, and very, very powerful souvenirs. Like we’ve got an eagle, like you find on the top of the flag. I think you’ve got the same. This eagle, we called it the “wounded eagle” because it has two bullet holes on it. It’s very valuable; the last one sold for around 100,000 Euros.


Hills: The one with the bullet holes is going to go for more?


De Gouvion Saint-Cyr: It’s imperfection is going to cause it to make more. So, that’s a very powerful souvenir.


Hills: What about those socks I saw on your site -- Napoleon’s socks? There’s several unusual things. Would the socks get as much as, say, the attempted assassin’s knife?


De Gouvion Saint-Cyr: All the souvenirs coming from Napoleon personally, like his hat or his shirt, are very collectible; collector’s are searching for these. We know this. So, I think it’s going to have a price of around 20,000 Euros.


Hills: 20,000 Euros for socks? That’s a lot. That’s about $30,000. Arnaud de Gouvion Saint-Cyr is with the French auction house, Osenat, which is selling off the Napoleonic objects this weekend. Thank you so much.


De Gouvion Saint-Cyr: Thank you.


Hills: We’ve got pics of Napoleon’s hat, that gold eagle with the bullet holes in it, and even those $30,000 socks at PRI.ORG.