Feature

Strands of glory: Is Napoleon's hair worth more than Elvis'?

A lock from the French emperor's hair recently sold at auction for $13,000. How's that stack up against the collectible value of other famous follicles?

Everything is collectible, it seems: Even human hair. Outbidding an international field of collectors, an unnamed Londoner paid $13,000 last week to purchase a lock of Napoleon Bonaparte's hair, reportedly snipped a day after the emperor's death in 1821. For those in the know, that's a relative bargain. Here, a rundown of what collectors have spent on strands from other famous heads:

Elvis Presley
$115,000 for a "small jar" of hair, 2002
Presley's barber had reportedly saved his hair in a bread bag. "I have no idea what [the collector] intends to do with it," said a representative from the Chicago company, MastroNet, that held the internet auction.

Bob Marley
$3,930, 2003
This four-inch dreadlock was a rare find. According to Marley's Rastafarian faith, he should not have cut his hair, but the Jamaican reggae star gave this strand to a girl he had met after a concert. "Memorabilia like this does not come on to the market regularly," an auctioneer told the U.K.'s Independent.

Che Guevara
$100,000, 2007
The lock in question was reportedly trimmed by Gustavo Villoldo, a C.I.A. operative who helped capture Guevara in 1967. Villoldo told The New York Times he felt he "was cutting off the very symbol of the Cuban revolution."

John Lennon
$48,000, 2007
This pricey piece of hair came packaged inside an autographed copy of Lennon's book A Spaniard in the Works, according to reports. "To have some of Lennon's hair along with a signed note from him really does give it fantastic provenance and authenticity," a spokeswoman for the English auctionhouse said.

George Washington
$17,000, 2008
Some insiders felt that the four strands of presidential hair sold to an unnamed Virginia man should have fetched more, but their authenticity was not entirely assured.

Jane Austen
$8,500, 2008
In this special instance, locks from the beloved 19th century novelist "had been fashioned into a weeping willow, a symbol of mourning or resurrection," according to English auctioneers

Michael Jackson
$1,700, 2009

The prize: 12 singed hairs, allegedly burnt during filming of a Pepsi ad in 1984. One of the commercial's producers collected them and kept them "in a wallet" for 25 years before selling them at the height of Jackson memorabilia following the star's death last year. The auctioneer told the U.K.'s The Sun that it was a "highly unusual souvenir."

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