A new exhibition about Napoleon and his links to Monaco is currently being organised by Louis Ducruet and Pierre-Jean Chalençon. The French entrepreneur and son of Princess Stephanie both have something in common: a deep interest in the highly celebrated and controversial military commander, none other than Napoleon Bonaparte.
Napoleon and the Grimaldi Family
Napoleon had a strong bond with the Grimaldi family. Prince Honoré V, Prince of Monaco served in the imperial armies in the rank of major and was appointed as the Baron of the Empire. Years later, Prince Louis II collected over one thousand items relating to Napoleon, including his hat, medals, letters, documents and even clothing that belonged to Napoleon’s son, Napoleon II.
In 1968, Prince Rainier III opened the Napoleon Museum in one of the palace’s wings. The museum also contained historical items relating to the Principality, including Monaco’s Charter of Independence, officially recognized by King Louis XII of France. The collection of Napoleonic effects was sold at auction in 2014 to raise funds for renovations to the Prince’s Palace. The hat worn by Napoleon sold for 1.9 million euros during the auction.
Pierre-Jean Chalençon’s passion for the Emperor
Today, businessman Pierre-Jean Chalençon is at the head of the largest Napoleonic collection in the world. When he was seven years old, his parents gave him an educational comic book about the story of Napoleon. Then, when he was 14, his mother bought him the proclamation by the Prefect of the Bouches-du-Rhône announcing the return of Napoleon from Elba in 1815. Ever since then, the media man has been a passionate collector of Napoleon objects. After his death, Pierre-Jean Chalençon will bequeath his collection to his foundation and the French State, so the priceless objects will remain in France.