|This file photo taken on November 8, 2019 shows an expert holding a pair of Napoleon I’s riding boots (“bottes a l’ecuyere” in French) at Drouot auction house in Paris ahead of their sale by French auction house “Binoche & Giquello” scheduled on November 29 at Drouot auction rooms. — AFP/VNA Photo
PARIS — A pair of boots worn by Napoleon during his final exile on St. Helena sold in Paris on Friday for 117,000 euros (US$128,000), more than twice the initial estimate.
The size 40 boots (roughly seven in British measure) were saved for posterity by Gen. Henri Gatien Bertrand, who followed the French leader into exile on the far-flung South Atlantic island after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, auctioneers said.
The general later gave the shoes to a sculptor working on an equestrian statue of Bonaparte.
The relics were expected to fetch between 50,000 and 80,000 euros, but bidding at the Drouot auction rooms was brisk.
Like Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines, Napoleon had a large collection of footwear, which he bought from the Paris shoemakers Jacques in Montmartre.
Although British propagandists often caricatured the Corsican as an authoritarian midget, at 1.69 metres he was actually above average height for his time.
The boots were gifted by the son of sculptor Carlo Marochetti to the French politician Paul Le Roux, a minister under the Second Empire of Bonaparte’s nephew, Napoleon III.
His family has kept them ever since, said auctioneers Binoche & Giquello.
General Bertrand returned to France after the death of his beloved leader in 1821.
Many French people still suspect Napoleon was poisoned by his British jailors.
Some historians, however, are convinced he was slowly murdered with arsenic administered by Count Charles de Montholon, his closest friend on the island.
They think he was blackmailed by French royalists into lacing the emperor’s wine with the poison after he was caught stealing money. — AFP