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Döttling’s Buonaparte contains hidden assets.

While restoring an 18th-century Italian safe, craftsmen at  the Döttling safe company ( in Maichingen, Germany, intended to fit it with a secret compartment. Toward the end of the project, however, they discovered that someone had beaten them to it long ago. “It is unique to this safe,” says Döttling managing partner Markus Doettling. “I’ve never seen something like it before, and I didn’t expect to see it in this safe.” The compartment, which is hidden beneath the main doors of the 1,100-pound, nearly 6-foot-tall steel-plated antique, is opened by simultaneously pushing two nailheads located near the bottom of the safe. Doettling believes the compartment served as a hiding spot for the keys to the Buonaparte, as the safe is called.


Now fully restored and retrofitted to accommodate a watch collection, the safe—which is said to have once belonged to Pope Pius VII and later to its namesake, Napoléon Bonaparte—is priced at 300,000 euros (about $395,000). Döttling did add a second compartment, but for the sake of the next owner, it is perhaps best that the location and means of opening it remain secret.

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