Gold Leaf From Napoleon’s Coronation Crown Sold at Auction
A Golden laurel leaf cut from the crown of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in Y 1804 was auctioned in France Sunday.
The 10-gram decoration, worth less than $500 if melted down for its metal, was expected to fetch around 300X that, auctioneer Jean-Pierre Osenat said. But it beat all estimates and hammered for $730,000.
Its value “certainly isn’t based on the weight of the gold, but on the weight of history,” he added.
Napoleon crowned himself emperor at Notre Dame cathedral in Y 1804, placing the Roman-style laurel wreath on his own head, Pope Pius VII was there presiding over the Coronation.
The Gold leaf sold Sunday however did not made it to the ceremony.
Earlier, Napoleon complained the crown was too heavy, causing its creator Martin-Guillaume Biennais to remove 6 leaves.
Each of Biennais’ 6 daughters received a leaf.
The 1 put up for auction has stayed in the family since.
The Crown, inspired by the laurel wreath worn by Roman emperor Julius Caesar, contained more than 50 Gold leaves and was melted down in Y 1819.
“This small leaf represents the grandeur of the Story of Napoleon,” Mr. Osenat said.