Inside the Vast Collection of Billionaire Christopher Forbes

Forbes with his collection. Photo courtesy of Osenat

The Christopher Forbes collection epitomizes the art of collecting. With an avid interest in French Second Empire art and antiques, Forbes has amassed a collection of over 2,000 objects from the era, with a keen interest in Napoleonic artifacts.

Ignited by a single object gifted by his father to a (then) teenage Forbes – a portrait of Napoleon III – the passion has since grown into a bona fide artform, demonstrating the fervor of a collector-turned-connoisseur.

Forbes will sell his collection at an Osenat auction, March 5-6, at the Chateau de Fontainebleu near Paris. With a total value of $3.3-4.4 million, auctioneer Jean-Pierre Osenat described this collection to the New York Times as “the biggest and most important Second Empire collection in the world.” See highlights from the two-day auction below.

Lot 221, Portrait of Louis Bonaparte as Prince of France, from the studio of Baron Gerard, early 19th century French school, Osenat (March 5, 2016)

Lot 5, Cardinal Fesch, wedding certificate of Emperor Napoleon I & Empress Josephine, 1804, Osenat (March 5, 2016)

Lot 202, Empress Eugénie surrounded by her Ladies-in-Waiting, from the studio of Franz-Xaver Winterhalter, 1868, Osenat (March 6, 2016)

Lot 64, Napoleon III in ceremonial costume, from the studio of Franz-Xaver Winterhalter, late 19th century, Osenat (March 6, 2016)

Lot 70, Napoleon III and marshals by Edgar Degas, Osenat (March 6, 2016)

Lot 79, Rectangular box on matte ground with blue enamel and rose-cut diamonds, Second Empire era (1852-1870) of Napoleon III, Osenat (March 6, 2016)

Lot 260, Chair from the Bronze Period of Napoleon III, Osenat (March 6, 2016)

Lot 291, Imperial Guard uniform awarded to the Prince, Second Empire era, Osenat (March 6, 2016)

Lot 65, Portrait of Emperor Napoleon III in his study by Hippolyte Flandrin, 19th century French school, Osenat (March 6, 2016)

Lot 80, Rare yellow gold jewelry set, c. 1815-1820, Osenat (March 6, 2016)

Lounge at Christopher Forbes’ home. Photo courtesy of Osenat

See the full collection available on Day 1 and Day 2 of Osenat’s Christopher Forbes Collection auction.