The Straits Times
Published on Dec 03, 2012

Napoleon essay fetches record price at French auction


PARIS (AFP) - A 200-year-old letter in which Napoleon Bonaparte vows to blow up the Kremlin fetched 187,500 euros (S$297,358) at a French auction on Sunday, while an essay by him on the failed Russian campaign set another record.

The coded missive, written in numbers and signed "Nap", said: "I will blow up the Kremlin on the 22nd at three in the morning." Dated Oct 20, 1812, the day after Napoleon retreated from the centre of Moscow, it is addressed to his external relations minister Hugues-Bernard Maret.

It had been expected to fetch between 10,000 and 15,000 euros at the sale in Fontainebleau, south-east of Paris.

Napoleon's order was executed and several towers and sections of wall at the Kremlin, at the time both an imperial palace and military fortress, were destroyed. The towers were later rebuilt identically. But another manuscript, the last dictated by Napoleon during his exile on the British island of Saint Helena, set a record at the sale, drawing a winning bid of 375,000 euros.