A lock of hair cut from Napoleon Bonaparte’s head after he died has sold for US$13,000 (£8,663) at an auction in New Zealand. Extra phone lines were installed for the sale to cope with an expected rush of international buyers seeking to snip up the hair cut from the head of former French Emperor a day after his death in 1821 while he was in exile on the island of St. Helena.
The circle of hair was part of a collection brought to New Zealand in 1864 by Denzil Ibbetson, a British commissary officer and artist. Ibbetson served on St. Helena during the six years that Napoleon was held on the island after being defeated at the Battle of Waterloo.
The collection of about 40 items, including sketches by Ibbetson of Napoleon on his death bed at the age of 51, was sold by the descendants of Ibbetson. “The collection has really been in remarkable condition and the family has to be commended for preserving this material for all this time, it’s nearly 200 years old,” Hamish Coney, managing director of the Art+Object Auction House, told Reuters Television.
“In terms of a historical collection that will be located in New Zealand, it’s probably one of the most important collections that has ever been found.”
According to the auction house the lock was bought by an unnamed collector in London. Coney said as well as local interest in New Zealand, there had been interest from Hong Kong, the United States, Lithuania and France.