£20 000 might buy you a Bea­tle’s tooth

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - AUCTIONS - PAUL BIGNELL

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

JOHN LEN­NON

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