30 Jun 2010

Napoleon's relics sell for thousands in Auckland

8:48 am on 30 June 2010

Relics from the final years of Napoleon's life went under the hammer in Auckland on Monday night.

There were about 40 items in the collection, which included a diary, a lock of Napoleon's hair preserved in a case, and several books and paintings.

A sketch of the French emperor on his death bed went for $21,000 and the lock of hair fetched $19,000.

They date from Napoleon's period of exile on the island of St Helena between 1815 and 1821 and were had been languishing in a suitcase in Waikato.

The relics had belonged to Denzil Ibbetson, a commissary officer on St Helena during Napoleon's exile there, and were sold by his descendants.

Managing director of the Art + Object auction house, Hamish Coney, says the diary reveals details of Napoleon's plans for the invasion of England and how France responded on his return from an earlier exile to the island of Elba.

The diary sold for $9500.

Mr Coney says some French bidders want to return some of the items to St Helena.