"I am going to blow up the Kremlin."
The statement single-handedly provoked a bidding war on Sunday among buyers desperate to get their hands on a 19th-century letter that sold at auction for €150,000 (Dh722,535), 10 times its estimate.
The letter, written by the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in 1812, was sent as his army was forced to retreat during his ill-fated Russian campaign.
Signed Nap, the letter was written in a numeric code, which was changed regularly to prevent the contents being intercepted.
By the time it reached Paris three days later, the Russian capital was ablaze and Napoleon's army left severely weakened.
"My cavalry is in tatters, many horses are dying," wrote Napoleon. The letter is signed, an indication of the important nature of its contents, according to the manuscript expert Alain Nicolas.
"We also have the transcription and, obviously, that amazing first sentence, 'I'm blowing up the Kremlin at three o'clock in the morning', which provoked a bidding war, an explosion of bids and a record for an extraordinary letter written in Moscow," Mr Nicolas told Reuters.
When Napoleon went to Moscow, he was at the height of his power.
"He returned profoundly weakened. In Moscow, the Russians had fled days before and burnt down the city, Jean-Christophe Chataignier of Osenat auction house, which held the sale, told AP.
"There was no victory for Napoleon, nor were there any provisions for his starving, dying army."
In the end, the letter was bought by the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts in Paris, which paid €187,500 for it, a final price that included fees. But some thought it should have gone to Russia.
"For Russians, Napoleon's campaigns in general and all the 1812 campaign is a more important historical moment than it is for France," Vladimir Hofmann, who went to the auction, told Reuters.