According to tradition, two lots in the sale of coin specialists Künker in Osnabrück from October 7-11 were made at the behest of Napoleon Bonaparte as a present for his sister Pauline.
They are a necklace and a bracelet, incorporating, respectively, 14 and seven Roman aurei from the 1st and 2nd centuries. Many of the coins are rarities and all are in good condition.
Paoletta Buonaparte, as she was born, was a great beauty and markedly self-assured: in 1805, after her marriage to Camillo Borghese, she posed naked for Antonio Canova for his sculpture Venus Victrix – causing a major scandal. In 1825, she died at the age of 44.
It is known that Napoleon and his sister shared a great love for antiquity and such jewellery would have been fitting presents for her.
The imperial connection was related by the Dutch coin dealer Jacques Schulman in 1966 when he presented both pieces at the Delft Antiques Fair.
While the final proof is lacking, the asking prices indicate that the auctioneers are convinced: €50,000 for the bracelet and €100,000 for the necklace.