Lock of Beethoven's hair up for auction at Sotheby's

Composer cut off the lock of hair himself and gave it to pianist Anton Halm the year before his death

Roisin O'Connor
Monday 10 June 2019 07:47 BST
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Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven

A lock of Ludwig van Beethoven’s hair given to a pianist in 1826 will be sold at auction this week.

According to Sotheby’s auction house, which is selling the object on Tuesday 11 June, the lock of hair was cut off by the composer and given personally to Anton Halm the year before Beethoven’s death.

The “substantial” lock of his grey and brown hair is contained in an oval frame and has a pre-auction estimate of $15,000 to $19,000. It is the second time Beethoven’s hair has been sold at auction: in 1994 a lock cut from his head upon his death in March 1827, aged 56, was purchased by two enthusiasts who wanted to determine why he suffered from poor health.

“Halm told Beethoven’s great biographer AW Thayer that, while at work on the Grosse Fuge in 1826, he had asked Beethoven’s factotum Carl Holz to secure a lock of Beethoven’s hair for his wife Maria. The hairs arrived a few days later, supposedly Beethoven’s, but in fact cut from a goat,” Sotheby’s said.

“When he had finished his arrangement of the fugue, Halm brought it and the hair to Beethoven. The composer was furious that his friend had been deceived, and promptly snipped off some hair and gave it to him, declaring it to be genuine.”

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