LONDON | The British auction house Sotheby’s indicated on Monday that it would put up for sale on its website the key to the room where Napoleon died when he was imprisoned on the island of Saint Helena by the British.
This 13 cm long metal piece was found “in an envelope, in a trunk of a Scottish house,” said David MacDonald, British furniture specialist at Sotheby’s, in a statement.
“The family that had always known she was there somewhere, but she had been hidden,” he added.
A soldier named Charles Richard Fox, who was on the island of Saint Helena after the death of the French Emperor in 1821, had brought the key back to Scotland to give to his mother, who was a big fan of the former ruler, to the point of having sent him sweets and books during his captivity.
His descendants eventually found the key and decided to auction it off.
“We often see objects associated with Napoleon, important paintings or furniture from one of his incredible homes,” said David MacDonald, “but there is something quite powerful about this key, especially because it comes from the place where he was imprisoned and the room where he died ”.
“It was as strong and powerful an object then as it is today,” he said.
Mr. Fox had himself removed the key from his lock during a visit after the death of Napoleon, he explained in a note dated September 6, 1922, sold with the object.
According to Sotheby’s, the lot could be worth up to 5,000 pounds (5,500 euros) at the end of four days of auctions which end on Thursday.