A 200-year-old letter written in code by Napoleon Bonaparte in which he vows to blow up the Kremlin has been sold for a whopping $243,500, 10 times its estimated pre-sale price.
The letter dates from Napoleon’s ill-fated invasion of Russia in the early 19th Century, and is written in code to his foreign minister Hugues-Bernard Maret in Paris in 1812. Its first line reads: “On the 22nd at 3 a.m. I will be blowing up the Kremlin.”
It is being sold alongside a deciphered transcript.
The Paris-based Museum of Letters and Manuscripts was finalising the purchase of the document for the equivalent of $243,500, including fees, media reports said.
Earlier, the letter was expected to fetch up to $19,000 at an auction in France.
In the letter, the French emperor reveals his frustration at the Russian campaign, with his army ravaged by disease, cold and hunger, and already in retreat from Moscow.
“My cavalry is in tatters, a lot of horses are dying… Make sure we buy more as soon as possible,” Napoleon also wrote.
Napoleon kept the promise to blow up the Kremlin in Moscow, destroying its walls and towers before retreating with his army, beginning a decline in his power that would lead to his abdication and exile just two years later.
Jean Christophe Chataignier, director of the Osenat auction house where the letters want on sale, said the coded letter was “very rare.”
Napoleon was Emperor of France from 1804 to 1815.