Former PM's Napoleon archive a hit at Paris auction
Rare-book lovers, museum buyers and fans of Napoleon flocked for a chance to bid on a rich archive on the emperor.
PARIS, March 20, 2008 - Rare-book lovers, museum buyers and fans of
Napoleon flocked Wednesday for a chance to bid on a rich archive on the
emperor, put up for sale by former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin.
Some 335 books and letters, collected over the past three decades, were up
for auction after Villepin -- a poet and historian in his spare time --
decided it was time to "turn the page" on the Napoleon era.
The former prime minister has written several books on the emperor's rule
but says he now intends to focus on 15th- and 16th-century history.
A large crowd of buyers and onlookers pressed into the bidding room in the
Drouot auction house in central Paris, with dozens left standing at the door.
Several rare volumes sparked fierce bidding battles, with a manuscript
decree signed by the early 19th-century emperor snapped up for 28,000 euros
(44,000 dollars) by France's National Archives.
The Napoleon museum in Fontainebleau, south of Paris, bid successfully on
an English pamphlet against the emperor, drawing cheers from the room and
cries of "Vive l'Empereur!".
An almanac dedicated to the Empress Josephine and bearing the seal of
Napoleon's brother Louis fetched 18,500 euros, while a royal almanac marked
with the seal of Marie-Antoinette fetched 20,000 euros.
Marcello Pacini, an Italian private collector born on Elba, fought hard for
a manuscript letter written by Napoleon during his exile on the island, which
he clinched for 14,000 euros -- 14 times the starting price.
The overall collection was expected to raise well over its estimated value
of 400,000 euros.