Among other, more religious things, the pope is known for his hats. And, unsurprisingly, even his most simple chapeaus can fetch a high price at auction.
Last Sunday saw the latest pope hat to sell: a simple white skullcap that once belonged to Pope Francis. The price? Over $18,000 at auction.
The silk cap, known as a zucchetto, is the traditional head cover of Catholic holy men, similar in some ways to a yarmulke. They were first introduced to the Catholic faith in medieval times, as a way to keep a priest’s head warm. Today, they have a more formal meaning, but can be worn by any ordained member of the clergy. The color of the cap is determined by rank, with the white zucchetto being reserved for use only by the pope.
According to the National Catholic Review, it is tradition for the pope to exchange his current cap with one given to him by a member of the faithful (a brand new zucchetto can be purchased for under $100), and this was how Frederik Jamees, the seller of the cap, came into possession of the pope’s hat. Usually a seller of slot machines, Jamees got the hat after it was obtained by an Italian TV host who had traded caps with Pope Francis in 2014. A video of the exchange was attached to the auction:
Jamees sold the cap on online auction site catawiki for €16,100 or about $18,240, and said that at least some of the profits will be donated to an Israeli children’s charity. The price was boosted not just because of its association with a religious figure, but by the popularity of the current pope. Other items related to the chill pontiff have also sold for higher-than-normal prices at auction, including a Fiat he rode in, which sold for $82,000 in January.