Someone sold Napoleon's penis!
More strangely, perhaps, is that people will pay big money to ‘get their hands on it’ (by that I mean ’buy it’!
Napoleon Bonaparte died in exile on the southern Atlantic island of Saint Helena on May 5, 1821. The following day an autopsy was conducted by the emperor's doctor, Francesco Antommarchi, in the company of 17 witnesses, including seven English doctors and two of Napoleon's aides, a priest named Vignali and a manservant, Ali. Antommarchi removed Napoleon's heart (the deceased had requested that it be given to his estranged wife, the empress Marie-Louise, though it was never delivered) and stomach (the medical authorities present agreed that cancer thereof was the cause of death, although this verdict has long been disputed.
In a memoir published in 1852 in the Revue des mondes, Ali the manservant claimed that he and Vignali had removed bits of Napoleon's body during the autopsy. It's unclear whether Ali specified the penis as one of the abstracted organs, but everyone now assumes that's what he meant.
In 1916 Vignali's descendants sold his collection of Napoleonic artifacts to a British rare book firm, which in 1924 sold the lot for about $2,000 to a Philadelphia bibliophile, A.S.W. Rosenbach. Among the relics was "the mummified tendon taken from Napoleon's body during the post-mortem." A few years later Rosenbach displayed the putative penis, tastefully couched in blue morocco and velvet, at the Museum of French Art in New York. According to a contemporary news report, "In a glass case [spectators] saw something looking like a maltreated strip of buckskin shoelace or shriveled eel." The organ has also been described as a shriveled sea horse, a small shriveled finger, and "one inch long and resembling a grape."
Eventually it was put on the block at Christie's in London. It didn't sell, leading a scandalmongering British tabloid to trumpet, "NOT TONIGHT, JOSEPHINE!" Eight years later, in 1977, the penis was put up for sale again at a Paris auction house, this time offered separately from the rest of the collection. John K. Lattimer, professor emeritus and former chairman of urology at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, bought it for $3,000, acknowledged having it in 1987, and, as far as I can discover, still does.
More reasonably useless trivia about Napoleon
For well over a century people believed that Napoleon was poisoned with arsenic by his British captors. In the last few weeks before death Napoleon lost over 20 lbs in weight and also made that claim saying they wanted to ensure he did not escape again and lead France into another bloody war. In fact a recent autopsy on his remains re-affirmed his original autopsy finding that he died from stomach cancer.
Napoleon also suffered from gallstones. It has been said they were extremely painful on the night before the Battle of Waterloo and due to the pain and lack of sleep Napoleon made several critical mistakes which ended in his defeat. Other historical figures who suffered from the painful bladder stones were Peter the Great, Louis XIV, Oliver Cromwell, Benjamin Franklin, Sir Francis Bacon, Sir Isaac Newton, and famous diarist Samuel Pepys.
Napoleon also suffered from Ailurophobia. Ailurophobia is the morbid fear of cats. An ailurophobic is not someone who just doesn’t like cats. Instead they have a deep-seated, persistent, and irrational response to cats which causes them to become extremely anxious around felines. Even the sound of a friendly ‘purr’ can cause panic attacks. Some notable sufferers of ailurophobia include Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Genghis Khan. Isn’t it interesting that these three are amongst the most notorious Emperors of all time.