Sometimes, the body parts of famous people are taken as souvenirs either by their relatives or by those who perform the autopsy. Yes, as macabre as it may sound, the removed body parts are even preserved in museums throughout the world.
In other cases though, their whereabouts are shrouded in mystery. But let’s look at each case separately.
So, here they are, 5 famous persons who rest in pieces: (the article continues after the ad)
Beethoven’s ear bones
When Beethoven died in 1827, his body didn’t escape unscathed. During the autopsy, a pathologist removed his ear bones and clipped locks of his hair. And if that wasn’t enough, when his body was exhumed in the late 1800s, Johann Wagner, a doctor at Vienna’s Pathologic-Anatomical museum, took some fragments of his skull.
After his death in 1955, Albert Einstein’s brain was removed, without the permission of his family, by pathologist Thomas Harvey. But wait, the story gets weirder. Harvey took Einstein’s brain to Philadelphia, carved it up into 240 pieces and kept it in his basement in two separate jars – preserved in celloidin. In 2010, Harvey’s heirs transferred the remains of the brain to the National Museum of Health and Medicine and in 2013 the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia acquired 46 small portions. Up to this day, these are the only two places in the world where you can see pieces of Einstein’s brain.
Joseph Haydn’s head
For those of you who don’t know, Joseph Haydn is a celebrated Austrian composer of the Classical period. When he died in 1809, he was buried in the Hundsturm cemetery in Vienna. When the burial ended, two men, later found to be Johann Nepomuk Peter and Joseph Carl Rosenbaum, bribed the gravedigger who opened up the tomb allowing them to slice off and steal the composer’s head. The skull passed from hand to hand, and in 1895, ended in up Vienna’s Society of the Friends of Music. In 1945, the organization gave the skull so it could be transferred to its tomb, thus completing a 145-year-long burial process.
John F. Kennedy’s brain
JFK’s lost brain has been a mystery since 1966. When Kennedy died, his brain was removed and stored in the National Archives. However, three year later, it was discovered that it had gone missing. Conspiracy theorists urged to suggest that the missing organ was intentionally kept out of the public eye as it was a proof that the President was shot from the front, and not from the back by Lee Harvey Oswald as the official story claims.
However, a new book by James Swanson on the assassination of Kennedy, suggests that the brain was in fact, taken by his brother Robert, “perhaps to conceal evidence of the true extent of President Kennedy’s illnesses, or perhaps to conceal evidence of the number of medications that President Kennedy was taking”. Did someone move it? Was it destroyed? These are questions that, at least for now, cannot be answered.
Gallileo Galilei’s fingers
Of course, in some cases, the remains turn out to be discovered years later. Just in the case of Galileo Galilei. Removed by admirers in the 18th century, Galileo’s middle finger, a thumb and a tooth were discovered in 2009 and transferred to the Museum of the History of Science in Florence, which is now called the Galileo Museum.
If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: Here’s Where They Keep Thomas Edison’s Last Breath
Photo: US National Archives, Wikimedia
Photoshop: I’m A Useless Info Junkie
Sources: Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses | The Tragic Story of How Einstein’s Brain Was Stolen and Wasn’t Even Special | The president’s brain is missing and other mysteriously mislaid body parts | The Mystery of JFK’s Brain: How Did it Disappear? | Galileo’s fingers to be displayed in Florence science museum