10 Weird Preserved Body Parts Of Famous People In History
From Galileo's middle finger to Thomas Edison's last breath, these historical figures had their body parts preserved. And the stories behind these preservations is just as strange as the body parts themselves.
1. Parts of Beethoven's skull
When famous composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven died in 1827, doctors removed his ear bones during autopsy in an attempt to study the curious case of the partially deaf composer's ears. But the bones were supposedly stolen by a medical orderly who sold them to a "foreign doctor."
The ear bones were never seen again, but fragments of Beethoven's skull did resurface in 2005. Pieces of it were discovered in California. Allegedly, they'd been passed down for generations by Beethoven's family from Vienna. Today, the skull fragments reside at the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies, California’s San Jose State University
2. Albert Einstein's Brain
Albert Einstein was, hands-down, one of the greatest scientific minds of the 20th century. After his death in 1955, his brain was removed for study and research purposes. After the first study was conducted, the brain went missing. No one knew what happened to it.
In 1978, Einstein's brain was "rediscovered" in the hands of Dr. Thomas Stoltz Harvey, the doctor who first removed and studied the brain. In 2010, the brain was donated to National Museum of Health and Medicine.
3. Galileo's Middle Finger
Italian scientist and mathematician Galileo Galilei's middle finger was snapped off 95 years after his death. The finger was passed around for a few hundred years until it made its way to the Florence History of Science Museum, where it still resides today.
4. Rasputin's Genitals
The infamous mystic advisor to the Czar and his family, Gregori Rasputin, was also notorious for his many sex escapades. He claimed that the sex adventures and orgies were part of a religious experience. In 1916, after Rasputin was poisoned, clubbed, shot, and finally drowned and died, his penis was mysteriously cut off from his body.
Somehow, in the 1920s, Rasputin's severed penis made it to Paris, allegedly, being the subject of worship of a group of Russian women. Rasputin's daughter Maria found out and strongly disapproved of the cult. She took his father's body part back.
Today, Rasputin infamously large, monstrous penis is on display at the Museum of Russian Erotica in St. Petersburg.
5. Napoleon’s Genitals
Allegedly, a resentful doctor removed Napoleon’s penis during his autopsy in 1821. The Emperor's private member was not seen again until 1916, when it showed up in London at the “Vignali Collection” of Napoleonic souvenirs gathered from the island where he died in exile, St. Helena. Afterward, it traveled around for awhile until the mid-1970s, when an American urologist D.r John Kingsely Lattimer bought it for about $3,000. Napoleon's penis remains in the United States to this day.
6. Buddha's Tooth
Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, died in the 6th century BC in India. Buddha was cremated, but his followers kept a tooth as a sacred relic. Today, the tooth is now displayed in a large gold reliquary in Kandy, Sri Lanka.
7. Abraham Lincoln's Bone Fragments
After President Lincoln was shot, doctors tried to remove the bullet inside his skull, however by doing so they forced out a blood clot and several fragments of his skull.
The fragments of President Lincoln's skull can be seen today on display, next to the bullet that killed him, at the National Museum of Health and Medicine.
8.Che Guevara's Hair
After Che Guevara was killed in 1967 by troops in a Bolivian jungle, a CIA operative snipped off a 3-inch chunk of his hair. The hair along with his fingerprints and graphic photos of Guevara's bullet-riddled body were sold for $119,500 at an auction to a Texan rare book dealer and Che fan. The Texan book dealer proudly displayed his morbid Che relics in his bookstore in Houston.
9. Benito Mussolini's Brain
When Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was executed in 1945, the American government asked for a sample of his brain to study it, but also as a grim trophy. In 1966, 21 years after Mussolini's death, the U.S. government gave the portion of his brain back to his widow Rachele Mussolini. In 2007, pieces of Mussolini's brain popped up on eBay, where they were being sold for $22,000.
10. Hitler's Penis
Apparently, a Russian soldier cut off Hitler's genitals and took it as a keepsake. In the early 2000s Hitler's private member went up for sale. Seriously, what's with preserved penises of historical figures?
11. Thomas Edison's Last Breath
This may not technically be a body part, but it's weird enough it deserves an honorable mention. A test tube that supposedly contains American inventor Thomas Avla Edison's last breath is on display at the Henry Ford Museum.
Henry Ford and Edison were close friends. In fact, in the last few years of Edison's life, Ford bought a home next to his winter estate in Florida, so he and Edison could run amok and race in wheelchairs.
When Ford died in 1947, a test tube containing Edison's last breath was discovered among his stuff. It was said that Ford had asked Edison's son, Charles, to bottle an exhaled breath from Edison as he lay dying.