Survey: Napoleon's penis is "Most Detestable Collectable"
George Zimmerman's gun sold last month. On Saturday, Adolf Hitler's socks auction in Germany. So JustCollecting asked people around the world: "When does collecting cross the line of acceptability?"
• Just 31.3% of respondents think it's acceptable to buy Napoleon's penis - it last sold in 1977, for $3,000
• 41.9% of respondents state it's OK to acquire the gun George Zimmerman used to kill Trayvon Martin – Zimmerman sold it for a reported $250,000 in May
• 65.0% of respondents believe it's fine to own Adolf Hitler memorabilia
The results: Percentage of respondents who thought it acceptable to buy/collect…
Napoleon's penis: 31.3% Detached by the doctor who performed Napoleon's autopsy. It changed hands several times before US urologist John Lattimer (from whose collection Hitler's socks are selling) bought it for $3,000 at auction in 1977. Now owned by Lattimer's daughter, who steadfastly refuses to display it. Likened to a "shrivelled eel" by a journalist who saw it on display in New York's Museum of French Arts in 1927.
Ronald Reagan's blood from 1981 assassination attempt: 32.8% A vial of the president's blood was removed from a PFC Auctions sale (with bidding at $30,086) in 2012 after global publicity caused uproar in America. What wasn't reported at the time was that the consignor had bought it three months prior at an auction for $3,550 – in the US.
Joseph Merrick (the Elephant Man's) skeleton: 33.3% Michael Jackson offered the Royal London Hospital $1 million for the skeleton in 1987. The hospital, which cared for Merrick throughout his life, declined.
Bloodied seat covers from JFK's assassination: 33.5% Two small blood-splattered swatches auctioned for a combined $23,750 in 2014.
Belly button fluff: 38.0% Australian librarian Graham Barker has been collecting his navel fluff for the past 29 years.
The gun George Zimmerman used to kill Trayvon Martin: 41.9% Zimmerman reportedly sold the gun for $250,000 in May 2016. Leading civil rights activist Shaun King wrote in the New York Daily News: "It nauseates us. It infuriates us. It takes us somewhere, emotionally, where we don't want to go, but we can't help it."
Michael Jackson's deathbed: 42.1% The bed was pulled from a 2011 auction following appeals from Jackson's family.
Lee Harvey Oswald's original coffin: 43.3% Sold for $87,000 in 2010, after Oswald's body was exhumed in 1981 and moved to a new coffin. Oswald's body was exhumed to quash rumours the coffin held the body of a Soviet spy, rather than the presidential assassin.
Surgical instruments from Elvis' autopsy: 44.0% They were withdrawn from a 2010 auction at the last minute following doubts regarding their authenticity.
Serial killer memorabilia: 44.7% Ted Bundy's handwritten letters from prison can sell for $2,000. Ian Brady-signed Christmas cards fetch $200.
Justin Bieber's hair: 59.3% The Golden Palace casino paid $40,668 for a clump of the singer's hair from his famous 2011 trim.
John Lennon's teeth: 59.9% Canadian dentist Michael Zuk bought Lennon's molar for £19,500 ($31,000) in 2011. Zuk has since mooted the idea of cloning the Beatle from the tooth's DNA. "He would… be his exact duplicate but you know, hopefully keep him away from drugs and cigarettes, that kind of thing," Zuk told a documentary for the UK's Channel 4. "But you know, guitar lessons wouldn't hurt anyone right?"
Sex dolls: 63.9% Married Briton Bob Gibbins has spent £100,000 ($142,000) amassing his world record 240-strong collection.
Adolf Hitler memorabilia: 65.0% Hitler's watercolours from his failed career as an artist have sold for more than $100,000. A tea tray Nazi architect Albert Speer presented to Hitler on his 50th birthday, in 1939, sold for £28,000 ($46,334) in 2012.
Golliwog dolls: 78.8% Vintage examples by Steiff can sell for $5,000.
JustCollecting's Dan Wade comments: "Although it's fun that the Little Corporal's penis tops our poll of detestable collectables, the other findings raise more serious questions.
"Is it right that individuals, dealers and auctioneers profit from the sale of Nazi memorabilia, for example? Or should nothing be off limits? If you start censoring the trade of these pieces, do you risk losing the lessons of the past?
"Zimmerman's decision to sell his gun offended the majority of people we polled. Yet several of those same people conceded he should be allowed to sell it from a legal standpoint."
JustCollecting polled 804 collectors and non-collectors from around the world in compiling the survey.
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