Flipping through a copy of Nigel Cawthorne's Sex Lives of the Great Dictators over the weekend, I came across a creepy piece of Napoleonic trivia...
It's widely known that Napoleon Bonaparte was rumoured to have an astonishingly small appendage. Some say it was just a vicious story invented by the British, but no matter how sizeable - or not - it was in his heyday, 160 years after he died on St Helena it wasn't looking too good. Apparently Napoleon's penis was sliced off his corpse by the Abbot Vignali, preserved in a bottle, stored along with a small collection of his personal (material, not physical) belongings and served up for auction through Christie's in 1969.
No, I didn't believe it either, but a little internet research says it is indeed so. Not surprisingly, the item was passed in and is last thought to have been seen in the hands of a leading New York urologist.
Google 'Napoleon's penis auction' and you'll find stories in which the specimen is variously described as resembling a 'shrivelled eel', a 'small dried-up object' and a 'tiny seahorse'.
Gross huh? But it was worth a few minutes' investigation just to find this headline:
Ding ding. I wish I'd said that.