What’s a girl got to do around here to get to an auction? Jeez! All I wanted to do was go to the sale of the century. Sunday morning, outside of Paris in the little town of Fountainbleu, at the prestigious auction house,Osenat, was none other than the auction of the personable items of Napoleon freaking Bonaparte! Now, let it be said that my husband always does what I want. We like to do the same things… Flea markets, farmers markets, antique stores, restaurants, movies… Etc. We always say the reason why we like each other so much is because we like to do the same things. He is always up for all of my adventures and I assumed that he would be 100% on board with the Napoleon auction. Apparently, I was wrong. He did not want to go. He adamantly did not want to go. I adamantly wanted to go. If I was not paralyzed, I would have breezed right past him and gone to the auction by myself. But, since I need him, his car, and his money (and I happen to like his company)…I had to get clever. First things first, I started to pout and ignore him. He hates when I ignore him. I do this very well but this time it wasn’t working so I decided that I should probably start shouting at him. This didn’t work either. Then I told him I was never going to eat or drink again if he didn’t take me to the Napoleon auction. This worked! He (reluctantly) agreed to go to the auction! Feel free to use my method.
7:30 AM Sunday morning my caregiver arrives to get me ready. By 8:30 AM we are out the door, in the car and on our way to Fountainbleu. Yes, I made David stop for a Starbucks chai because he just loves to do that. :-) After about an hour we arrived to the little town and it was all abuzz! This was a very important auction. The collection of Napoleon Bonaparte’s 1000 or so personal belongings have been in the possession of the Grimaldi family of Monaco. Yes, Princess Grace’s family. They have maintained a museum of these collectibles since 1970. The Grimaldi family decided to have the auction to make room for a new museum dedicated to Princess Grace. Obviously, I felt it was my obligation to attend the auction in honor of Princess Grace… Or at least this is what I told my husband.
We had two hours to preview the lot. It was a madhouse in there. Museum curators, antique dealers, collectors. I was the only Lookie Loo. Totally claustrophobic and I almost fainted but I persevered because that’s the kind of girl I am. The star of the auction was Napoleon’s hat. His famous characteristic bicorne hat. There are only 20 left in the world. The hat was originally intended to be worn with the two points facing forward but because Napoleon was so fashion forward he wore it sideways. Just kidding, he wore his hat sideways so his men would be able to distinguish him on the battlefield. Surrounding the hat at the auction were gaggles of people trying to catch a glimpse. Because I am in a wheelchair, people feel obligated to get out of my way so fortunately I was allowed to have a moment alone with the hat and a photo! Thank you ALS!
I had spent the previous evening perusing the auction catalog online. There were some truly remarkable pieces… The baby cradle given by Napoleon I to his adoptive daughter, Stéphanie de Beauharnais, personal letters, a tomb shaped medallion that contains a lock of Napoleon’s hair, a blue red and white scarf with Napoleon’s initials in gold embroidery, a bronze replica of the column of the Place Vendôme, a pair of Napoleon’s silk stockings, a sword encrusted in diamonds, paintings, statues… Souvenirs galore!
But, there was one little thing that caught my eye. Number 21. Lot number 21. Number 21: “Fragment of a light green wallpaper, decorated with an ivy branch and a fragment of brick. Souvenirs of Napoleon Bonaparte’s from Louis XVI’s bedroom in the prison “Temple.” This is what I wanted from the auction. Number 21. It was the size of a postage stamp and I wanted it. David of course rolled his eyes and said, “Should we buy this minuscule piece of wallpaper or pay your caregivers?” My response: “Do I need to answer that question? Now, go register and place my bid, please.” By this time, after seeing all of the treasures in person, David was beginning to realize the importance of the auction, the intrigue and the historical story. In other words, he saw the error of his ways and realized that I was right about wanting to attend this auction. He would never say that out loud but his actions spoke louder because my sweet David placed the bid for me.
In the meantime, while the auction was underway, we decided to visit the Château de Fountainbleu. We had registered with the auctioneer to conduct a phone bid with us on David's cell phone when our lot number came up. A remarkable Château yet all I could think about was the auction. While we were in Anne of Austria’s bedroom, I said “Did the auctioneer call?” When we were in Napoleon’s bedroom I said,” Did the auctioneer call?” When we were in Marie Antoinette’s bedroom I said, “Did the auctioneer call?” Finally finally finally when we were standing at the entry of The Gallery of Diana… We got the call. (“The Diana Gallery, formerly the Queen's Gallery, 200 feet long, built under Henri IV, with decoration recounting the story of the goddess Diana. The gallery was restored under Napoleon I and Louis XVIII, and converted into a library under Napoleon III. The Globe at the entry was made for Napoleon I. “). As I was staring up at the ceiling at the beautiful paintings of angels, I decided that this would be a good time to start praying to them. “Dear Angels, please please please let me win this piece of wallpaper. Please please please.” I kept hearing David say on the phone to the auctioneer, “Oui.” And then there was a pause and then another, “Oui.” And again and again and again. “Oui, oui,oui.” The whole time I remained steadfast in my prayers to the ceiling angels. After about two minutes, it was over. David hung up the phone and looked at me and said, “It’s yours.” Oh my God! It’s mine. Number 21 is mine! David redeemed himself for every single thing he has ever done to make me angry including that restraining order (I threw a lamp at him once. A much-deserved lamp throwing). My David is my hero. He knew how much this meant to me and he made it happen. We probably won’t be able to pay my caregivers or the rent but I now have Louis XVI’s wallpaper! I said a thank you prayer to the angels and decided that this was my lucky room. I decided to ask the angels for one more favor which I’m sure you can guess what that was.
The entire ride home I was grinning ear to ear as we listened to the live auction for the rest of the lots. Guess what? The hat. The hat sold for $2.4 million dollars! Can you believe that? Awesome. But who cares about that hat because I have the wallpaper! To check out an exciting video regarding the auction click HERE. To check out the Napoleon Bonaparte auction lots click HERE. Definitely an exciting day and to top it off I finished my evening with an episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Dichotomy much?