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Napoleon's coded Kremlin letter sold for $243,500

The Associated Press, Sunday, December 2, 2012, 7:03am (PST)

FONTAINEBLEAU, France (AP) — A secret code letter sent in 1812 by Napoleon Bonaparte boasting that his French forces would blow up Moscow's Kremlin has sold at auction for ten times its estimated presale price.

A Paris museum — the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts — was finalizing its purchase of the Oct. 20, 1812, document for €187,500 ($243,500), including fees. That's far above the pre-sale estimate of €15,000 ($19,500).

Auctioneers at Fontainebleau Auction House south of Paris say the letter sold Sunday is unique. It was written in a numeric code used by the French ruler to throw off would-be interceptors. Its content bared the strains on Napoleon of his calamitous Russian invasion.

One line said: "At three o'clock in the morning, on the 22nd I am going to blow up the Kremlin."

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