Key to room where Napoleon died sells for £81,900 at auction

Artefact unearthed in Scotland fetches more than 16 times its pre-sale estimate at Sotheby's.

Key to room where Napoleon died sells for £81,900 at auction PA MEDIA

The key to Napoleon’s prison bedroom has been sold at auction for £81,900.

The artefact, which was unearthed in a trunk near Edinburgh, fetched more than 16 times its pre-sale estimate when it went under the hammer, according to the auction house Sotheby’s.

The key, which was discovered by Charles Richard Fox, was sold alongside a note reading: “Key of the room at St Helena, in which Napoleon died & which I got there out of the door in 1822.”

Another item is inscribed: “Bit of the paper, close to the spot where Napoleon’s bed, in which he died, stood.”

The French emperor died in exile as a prisoner of the British in Longwood, St Helena.

The 13cm steel key unlocked the room where he died.

Napoleon was exiled to the island, off the coast of Africa, after his defeat at Waterloo and was there until his death in 1821.

Mr Fox brought the key from St Helena to a property near Edinburgh and gave it to his mother Baroness Holland, a “superfan” of the French former ruler, who sent Napoleon books and sweetmeats.

Her descendants found the key in a trunk.

Prior to the sale, David Macdonald, Sotheby’s senior specialist, English furniture, said: “We see things associated with Napoleon all the time, important pictures or furniture from one of his amazing houses or homes.

“But there’s something about a key which, particularly as it comes from where he was incarcerated, is quite powerful, especially as it’s the key to the room where he died.”

A total of 11 bidders tried to buy the artefact.