Asia-Pacific

Lock of Napoleon's hair sold at New Zealand auction

A lock of hair from former French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte has sold for more than US$13,000 (£8,600) at auction in New Zealand.

The hair, cut from his head after he died in exile in 1821 on the Atlantic island of St Helena, was bought by an unnamed London collector.

Bidders vied for about 40 items of Napoleon memorabilia that sold for almost $100,000.

The items belonged to descendants of a British officer stationed on St Helena.

Denzil Ibbetson served during Napoleon's imprisonment on the remote island, a British colony, from 1815 to 1821.

Mr Ibbetson's collection was brought to New Zealand in 1864 by his son and remained in the family, stored in a suitcase, until the sale.

Image caption The image of Napoleon on his deathbed was the most expensive single item

His diary, which sold for $6,600, detailed conversations with Napoleon, who still spoke of invading Britain despite his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Mr Ibbetson was also an accomplished artist. A lithograph and watercolour image of Napoleon on his deathbed went for $14,600, the highest price for a single item at the auction.

The head of the Art+Object auction house, Hamish Coney, said it was a unique and important collection.

"Denzil Ibbetson was an acute recorder of life on the island and was in a unique position to access Napoleon in his final years," he said.

"Napoleon is one of the greatest figures of European history. This collection enables collectors and historians to gain a new perspective on his final years."

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites