£20 000 might buy you a Beatle’s tooth
AT FIRST glance, the gnarled, yellowing molar looks unremarkable, if rather repulsive. Yet the rotten tooth was once pulled from the mouth of one of the last century’s most famous people, and it was sold recently for almost £20 000.
John Lennon’s tooth – the first Beatle molar to be sold at auction – was given to his housekeeper, Dorothy Jarlett, in the mid-1960s.
It was bought at auction for £19 500 by a Canadian cosmetic dentist, Michael Zuk, who said he would display it in a case at his dental practice.
The Beatles star was particularly fond of Aunty Dot, who was employed at his Kenwood home in Weybridge. He gave her the tooth as a gift for her daughter.
Mrs Jarlett’s daughter was a huge fan of the band. The gnasher was sold with a sworn affidavit, signed by Mrs Jarlett, to prove its provenance.
Over the years Mrs Jarlett, now in her nineties, received many gifts from Lennon, including the jacket he wore on the cover of the 1965 Rubber Soul album and a pearl necklace he and Yoko Ono bought while on a trip to Japan.
Paul Fairweather, an auctioneer at Omega Auctions in Stockport, who sold the tooth, says “it’s by far the most weird and wonderful item we have ever had submitted to us”.
The atmosphere was very tense towards the end of the auction and a huge cheer rang out when the final bid was made.
Lennon’s tooth isn’t the only body part to be sold at auction. Many such items have attracted bids and, seemingly, the more gruesome, the bigger their appeal.
Alan Aldridge, an auctioneer from Henry Aldridge and Son in Devizes, who sold a strand of Elvis Presley’s hair a few years ago, believes there has always been a demand for this type of curiosity.
“They are often just conversation pieces at dinner parties,” he says. “The Victorians were great ones for it. They had specimen cabinets and, after dinner, gentlemen would show them off. We’re a race that just likes collecting strange things. A sale depends on how unusual the items are, and if there are people who want the items.”
Some extraordinary body part auction items:
Napol e o n’ s p e n i s was bought by US urologist John Lattimer in 1977 for £1 800.
Galileo’s digits ( a thumb and a finger) once turned up at auction and were sold for an unknown price.
Justin Bieber’s hair was sold for £25 000, with the proceeds going charity.
Mussolini’s brain was put on ebay, but later removed. The asking price was £13 000.
A jar of Angelina Jolie’s breath was sold for £330.
William Shatner’s kidney stone was sold i n 2006 f or £15 600.
A fragment of Beethoven’s skull was recently sold to a US university for an unknown price.
Che Guevara’s hair was taken from his corpse and sold in 2007 for £58 000.
A tiny strand of Elvis’s hair, kept by his barber, was sold for £1 055. – The Independent on Sunday