Poor Napoleon. Nearly two centuries after his death, it has been confirmed that the French military and political leader had a “very small” penis, measured at a modest one-and-a-half inches.
In what sounds like a very morbid, yet compelling, new Channel 4 series, Dead Famous DNA aims to find the remains of history’s most famous figures – from Hitler's hair and Elvis's DNA to Napoleon and his penis. Presenter Mark Evans travelled to New Jersey to find the artifact, which now belongs to Evan Lattimer – who was given it by his father, a renowned urologist, after it was bought at a Paris auction for $3,000. The relic is known among the Lattimer family as “Napoleon’s Item”.
“Dad believed that urology should be proper and decent and not a joke,” said Lattimer. “It’s very small, but it’s famous for being small. It’s perfect structurally, the university have done X-rays and examinations and it’s obviously what it is.”
How is Napoleon’s “item” still in circulation? Apparently, it was cut off during his autopsy by his somewhat cruel doctor, Francesco Autommarchi, in front of 17 witnesses, before it was then acquired by priest Abbé Anges Paul Vignali who gave the leader his last rites. It passed through Vignali’s family before it was eventually bought by American rare books dealer A.S.W. Rosenbach in 1924 and then displayed at the Museum of French Art in New York in 1927.
Its current owner, Lattimer, views the piece as a historical treasure and has only allowed 10 people to see it. The artifact has also never been photographed or filmed.
“I’ve seen a lot of penises, from a chihuahua to a sperm whale. This is so withered,” said Mark Evans. “The last place I would have expected to find it is in New Jersey. It’s strange how the withered penis has ventured further around the world than Napoleon ever did.”
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