The 10 Dumbest Historical Objects That Sold for Big Bucks

May 2, 2011

There are a lot of important artifacts worthy of historical recognition and preservation in order to commemorate their impact on the development of mankind and society: the original Gettysburg address, the hammer used to nail Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses, and the first Wonderbra, to name a few examples. These high-priced garage sale knick-knacks shouldn’t be among them, even though some very rich suckers paid just as much to own them.

Source: Keystone/Stringer/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

10. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Mustache Trimmings

The creator of Sherlock Holmes wasn’t just your typical writer who spends anywhere from 70 to 94 hours a week in their pajamas looking up nut-shot videos on YouTube. He actually did stuff that would probably make a military paratrooper think that he wasted his life.

It’s hard to know exactly where he derived his power for laughing in death’s pimply face, but it must come from his awesome man-stache, a mustache so awesome that it is worthy of pun-infused misspelling. That’s the only reason I can fathom for why someone would pay good money to buy his facial hair trimmings for more than 150 British pounds ($247 in American coinage). The purchase also came with a portrait of the author taken for his second wedding and the original envelope they were kept in for so many years that reads “My beloved mustache hairs,” which makes me wonder if he loved them enough to name all of them.

9. Lee Harvey Oswald’s Coffin

Source: Hulton Archive/Stringer/Getty Images

No other event in history (except perhaps for the Apollo 11 moon landing, the Roswell crash landing, or the break-up of Van Halen) has created more wild, drug-fueled speculation and conspiracy theories than the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The wild, wackjob hypotheses surrounding his death have turned every minuscule prop, fixture, and piece of trash from Dealey Plaza into items worth more than you or I could ever hope to be worth. For instance, the coffin of the man who most rational people believe killed JFK went on the auction block for a starting bid of $1,000. Of course, it didn’t come with Oswald’s body since it was the first coffin he was buried in before his body was exhumed in 1981, but I’m sure the auction house would have been willing to sell that on some kind of installment plan.

8. Queen Victoria’s Panties

Source: Rischgitz/Stringer/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

It’s hard to understand the kind of twisted billionaire who would want to own the knickers of one of the biggest and most powerful women in the world. It’s more likely my mind just doesn’t want to venture that down that flesh-colored, elephant-skinned road of elderly perverted delicacies about the man who purchased one of the biggest and most powerful ass coverings of all time.

Someone in Derby with more money than brains (or a common sense of decency) purchased the late queen’s “knickers” for 4,500 pounds (or just under $7,400) to do God knows what with them. So to keep myself from vomiting uncontrollably, I just imagine they turned them into the world’s most regal pup tent.

7. Elvis Presley’s Army Haircut Trimmings

Source: Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer/Getty Images

Remember the “Elvis is Alive” conspiracy theories? When the King of Rock and Roll started making surprise appearances around the country after spending months in seclusion, the world was stunned and rightfully so, considering the fact that he had been dead for at least 10 years.

However, turning the King into the King of Kings is probably the most sane thing his fans have done to honor his musical legacy. Someone at the Army base where Elvis had gotten his military issue haircut collected a big chunk of the trimmings as they fell from that barber’s golden hair chair. They popped up at an auction and were sold to an anonymous bidder for $18,300. I’m sure he wanted to remain anonymous because cloning is a felony.

6. Michael Jackson’s Syringe

Source: Ron Galella/WireImage/Getty Images

The late King of Pop has long been the target of high-priced auctions since his fabled Neverland Ranch estate went up for sale. However, the strangest keepsake in the MJ collection (strange even for a man who lived in what can ostensibly be described as the world's creepiest Dave and Busters and listed Peter Pan as a reference on his resume) is the syringe that delivered the fatal dose of drugs into his bloodstream. What’s even more shocking is the asking price: $5 million. For that kind of money, you should also be able to get Jackson’s entire circulatory system.

5. Winston Churchill’s Dentures

Source: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

I wouldn’t know what it’s like to be famous, but it must be extraordinarily difficult to be an actual mover and shaker in the annals of history. Just about every part of you is up for grabs.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, for instance, has long been an object of affection at auction houses and historical preservation efforts for his brave leadership, trademark wit, and steady demeanor in the face of unrelenting violence and horror, but even he would lose his s*** if he knew what part of him went up for auction. Someone in England bought the PM’s false teeth for $23,000. Of course, since this is England, he probably didn’t buy them as a keepsake of history. He probably just needed a better set of teeth.

4. Jerry Garcia’s Toilet

Source: Richard McCaffrey/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Deadheads have had a long and varied history of crazy behavior. Years of LSD and not showering will take a toll on you.

The craziest has to be the long and storied history around the Grateful Dead guitarist’s fabled toilet. It’s actually had one more than owner. An online casino company bought the man’s fabled throne for $2,550 at an auction but someone actually stole it before they had a chance to put it on display. The company even offered a reward for anyone who returned it. I would have settled for hand sanitizer and a bleach shower.

3. Elvis Presley's Autopsy Tools

Source: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

It stupefies me to think not of the sick and twisted Elvis fan who would actually want this long lost Elvis artifact, but the person who actually thought it would be cool with the family to sell them to the highest bidder. That guy is a hunka-hunka-burning stupid.

A funeral home in Tennessee tried to auction off the set of autopsy tools used to prepare Elvis’ body for burial following his death and they could have gone for as much as $14,000, but the auction house pulled the item at the last second. And it’s not because selling the body-probing instruments of a bloated drug addict was deemed as immoral and wrong for all of the reasons that mankind holds dear. It’s because they couldn’t confirm that they were the same tools used on Elvis. The absence of fried peanut butter and banana fat must have tipped them off.

2. Marilyn Monroe’s Chest X-Ray

Source: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

I honestly could not fault anyone for wanting to purchase the remains of this long lost sex symbol. Someone, however, put the blond bombshell’s chest X-rays up for auction, netting them an easy $45,000. You might think, “Sure, who wouldn’t want to see what was under Marilyn Monroe’s sweater?” The only people who would ask “I wonder what she looks like under that first layer of skin?” are either on a no-fly list, receiving psychiatric care, or running the Hustler magazine empire.

1. Napoleon's Penis

Source: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

When it comes to asking “Who the hell would want to own that?,” here’s an item that should never merit an answer...or rather, answers.

The French Emperor has long been the target of high priced collectors going after everything from his death shroud to parts of his small intestine. But none was more sought after or high priced than his “little General.” The phallus was taken from him by a vindictive priest while he gave Napoleon his last rites and it passed creepily from hand to quivering hand until the 1960s, when a urologist from New Jersey bought the military strategist’s “riding crop” and kept it in a suitcase under his bed for nearly 40 years. And that’s Reason No. 481 that I’ll never visit New Jersey.