Two pistols once owned by Latin American independence hero Simón Bolívar have sold for a reported $1.8 million on the auction block in New York.
The two pistols were a present to Bolívar from French aristocrat the Marquis de Lafayette – who fought in the French and American revolutions.
The two ceremonial pistols were made by royal gunsmiths at Versailles in 1825 by Napoleon Bonaparte’s official gunsmith, Nicolas Noel Boutet. They are contained in a wooden box and are inlaid with gold and silver as well as embossed with symbols from Greek and Roman mythology.
According to Christie’s auction house in New York, Lafayette – who dubbed Bolívar “the George Washington of South America" – likely sent the pistols as part of a gift requested by the family of George Washington, who were impressed by the young revolutionary. The gift included a portrait of the first American president, a medal and a lock of his hair.
“It was almost as if Marquis de Lafayette and Washington's heirs were paying homage to this younger revolutionary carrying on the torch. Bolívar was still a young man in his early 30s, he was a full two generations below the Marquis de Lafayette,” Becky MacGuire of Christie’s told the Associated Press ahead of the sale.
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Christie’s believed the pistols would sell for as much as $2.5 million.
While the name of the person who purchased the pistols has not been revealed, the Dominican news outlet Acento reported that they were purchased by local businessman, George Nader. The paper said that Nader intends to give them to Venezuelan businessman, Wilmer Ruperti.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.