Money can't buy you love... but £20k buys a Beatle's tooth

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

As Lennon's molar is sold at auction, Paul Bignell traces other body parts to go under the hammer

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 last century's most famous people, and yesterday it sold 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 purchased while on a trip to Japan.

Paul Fairweather, an auctioneer at Omega Auctions in Stockport, who sold the tooth, said: "It's by far the most weird and wonderful item we have ever had submitted to us. It was a very tense bid towards the end and a huge cheer rang out when the final bid was made."

Lennon's tooth isn't the only body part to sell 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 an appetite for this type of curiosity.

"They are often just conversation pieces at dinner parties," he said. "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. It's about how unusual the item is, at the end of the day, and if there are people who want the items."

Napoleon's penis Bought by US urologist John Lattimer in 1977 for £1,800.

Galileo's digits Thumb and finger turned up at auction,  unknown.

Justin Bieber's hair Proceeds went to charity, £25,000.

Mussolini's brain Put on eBay, but later removed. Asking price of £13,000.

Angelina Jolie's Breath, a jar of it sold for £330.

William Shatner's kidney stone Sold in 2006 for £15,600.

Beethoven's skull A fragment recently sold to US university, Unknown.

Che Guevara's hair Taken from his corpse and sold in 2007 for £58,000.

Elvis's hair Tiny strand kept by his barber sold for £1,055.

Suggested Topics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary