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Napoleon's clothes pulled from sale

Descendants of local servant who brought items back to France from St Helena win court ruling banning sale at auction

THE nightshirt that Napoleon was wearing on his deathbed on St Helena was withdrawn from auction shortly before it was due to go under the hammer yesterday.

Dozens of buyers from around the world had gathered at Fontainbleu for the sale, but went home disappointed as the sweat-stained nightshirt, along with a cane and 15 other objects, including a lock of his hair and some bandages, were taken out of the sale at the last minute.

Auction house Osenat confirmed that it had decided to “adjourn” the sale of the shirt and the other lots of Napoleon's personal effects.

It said that descendants of the exiled emperor’s servant Achille Thomas Archambault, who brought the items back to France from the island, had obtained an injunction preventing the sale amid concerns that the objects - described as “moving and historic” by auctioneer Jean-Christophe Chataignier - would be taken abroad.

"They wanted this heritage to stay in France," Horia Dazi-Masmi, a lawyer representing the relatives, told Le Parisien.

The shirt had been expected to fetch up to €40,000.

A spokesman for the auction house said that the seller of the items had them in her possession for more than 45 years.

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