Korean chicken mogul buys Napoleon hat for his 'spirit'

SEOUL - The South Korean chicken mogul who bought one of Napoleon's famous two-pointed hats for US$2.2 million says he sees the French emperor as a guiding "spirit" for modern entrepreneurs.

"I have always held in high esteem Napoleon's challenging spirit that nothing is impossible," Kim Hong-Kuk, the 57-year-old founder and chairman of the poultry giant Harim Group, said in a statement seen Tuesday.

"So I made the purchase of his hat to reawaken entrepreneurial spirit," Kim said.

The chairman of South Korea's top chicken processing firm shelled out nearly 1.9 million euros ($2.2 million) for the black felted fur hat at an auction in Paris on Sunday.

"Napoleon's challenging spirit sends an important message in this era that needs entrepreneurial spirit more than anything else," he said.

Kim said he was considering putting the hat on public display to share Napoleon's "spirit of challenge and adventure".

Kim started his poultry business as a teenager and built an empire whose portfolio now includes poultry and pork processing, animal feed, retail and animal medicine.

The group -- listed on Seoul's junior Kosdaq market -- posted annual sales of 4.8 trillion won ($4.4 billion) last year.

The beaver fur "bicorne" hat is one of only 19 examples left of the iconic headwear sported by Napoleon.

Kim paid almost five times its estimated value, as the price was driven up by competition with a Japanese bidder.

Kim told the Seoul-based Edaily news that he had already received an offer to buy the hat at a 30 per cent mark-up from Sunday's price.

"But I didn't buy it for investment purposes," he said.