You can’t put a price on genius, they say, but you can certainly put a price on a genius’ discarded fag end. Possessions belonging to the late-great Serge Gainsbourg - sexy lizard of French pop - are to go under the hammer at an auction house in Nantes at the end of the month. Coveted items like Serge’s Rolls Royce Silver Ghost or the teddy bear held by Jane Birkin on the cover of Histoire de Melody Nelson will not be up for grabs, but you can bid for four extinguished Gitanes that fractionally contributed to Serge’s eventual fatal heart attack in 1991 - starting at just €500, and his old coupe-ongles - that’s French for nail-clipper language fans - priced at a mere €50 initially. A snip! Here are ten other unusual things that have sold at auction...
Amy Winehouse’s blood
Peter Doherty - indie’s favourite rag and bone man - has turned the selling of the unsellable into a fine art, whether that be ex-girlfriend Kate Moss’ lipstick-smeared cigarette butts or former Coventry City stalwart and goalkeeper Steve Ogrizovic’s secondhand Christmas paper, apparently “sent to the guy out of Black Sabbath” (Pete never specified which member, and we’re hoping the card read “with love from Oggy to Ozzy”). Before Pete spent his days trying to get blood out of a stone, he’d get blood out of his mates to paint with, and that included Amy Winehouse, now deceased, who helped Doherty with a picture they called Ladylike. It sold at auction for £35,000 in 2012.
John Lennon’s rotten tooth
Lennon’s on sale again, whether it’s his childhood home or a discarded coat which is expected to fetch £10,000 at Hansons in Derbyshire. If Lennon owned it, fans will buy it, whatever it was. But perhaps strangest of all Beatles memorabilia ever auctioned was a rotten tooth extracted from the head of rock’s most famous assassinated superstar, sold to a Canadian dentist earlier this year. There may be a happy ending in all this, because the mouldering molar bought by Michael Zuk for £20,000, could do more than just sit on the mantlepiece in formaldehyde. Zuk says he is deadly serious about planning to clone the late Beatle with DNA extracted from the tooth. In your face, Mark Chapman!
Justin Timberlake’s half-eaten French toast
Who remembers that saddest of sights back in 2001 when the now no-longer-with-us Lost Boys actor Corey Haim wrenched a tooth out of his own head and tried to flog it on eBay? He nearly got $150 for it too, at least until the auction site flagged up their rule about vendors not selling body parts. There are no rules about chomped bread though, and Justin Timberlake’s legit half-eaten piece of French toast went for an eye watering $3,154 to an 'N Sync fan who had more money than sense. I mean really, who is going to be impressed you spent $3,154 on Justin Timberlake’s half-eaten French toast? Not even another 'N Sync fan surely?
Justin Bieber’s albino snake
A snake is not just for Christmas, but try telling that to Canadian wildman Justin Bieber, who auctioned his albino snake last November for a good cause. Obviously insert your own jokes here about Justin Bieber’s albino snake, and if your sides aren’t splitting enough already, hear this: he called the creepy no-legged little bastard Johnson. OMFG! Justin Bieber’s albino snake, Johnson!
Mick Jagger’s hair
Jagger’s swagger probably has a lot to do with the fact he’s in his 70s and still has all his own hair, well most of it anyway. A lock he couldn’t account for dating back from the 60s went to auction last year and sold for a staggering £4,000. Apparently the hair was discarded at a girlfriend’s farmhouse where the pair were believed to have had frolicsome fun - with a bit of scissors action thrown in - and the canny parents crept in after and kept hold of the snipped follicles as collateral. Apparently a clump of Elvis’ hair sold in 2009 for more than £11,000, but the King’s duck’s ass be damned, I’m holding out for the Phil Spector wig auction, it’s gotta happen one of these days.
Suge Knight’s underpants
Maybe they were the kind of pants with stretchy elastic best for suspending people out of window’s with, but whatever their quality or durability, Suge Knight’s grundies were given short shrift when the Death Row records boss attempted to sell all of his possessions at the label’s liquidation auction in 2009. Priced at $5, the unloved undercrackers were eventually snapped up for just one dollar. Which was obviously pants for Suge.
The building where Bob Dylan’s bar mitzvah took place
You’re a massive Dylan fan and you’d like nothing more than one of his old plectrums, maybe a signed copy of Tarantula and the synagogue he came of age in back in 1954 in Minnesota. This was the lead detail the proprietors of the former working Agudath Achim Synagogue ran with on Craigslist and a host of auction sites in 2010. The building became a Pentecostal Church in the 80s, and then the owners of the scene of the Robert Zimmerman bar mitzvah had planned to turn it into a Dylan-themed B&B, but when the recession came they instead sought to offload it for $120,000 with the bizarre promotional USP.
One of Lady Gaga’s fingernails sold for a whopping $12,000 and it hadn’t even been ripped off by mafiosos with a pair of tweezers and presented to a stereotypical crime boss eating spaghetti - it was a fake. The discarded acrylic nail extension had been dropped on stage and pocketed by a cunning crew member who then went and actioned it for a fortune. Still, that sum pales into insignificance when you consider the cover for Artpop - designed by neo-pop artist Jeff Koons - could fetch as much as $50m quid.
Michael Jackson’s death bed
Looking for a nice bed for the new apartment? How about snapping up the one Michael Jackson died in? You could be the envy of your most ghoulish friends and you might even find some stray monkey nuts intended for Bubbles down the back of the mattress. If you were after memorabilia that evokes happier times, then some of Jacko’s singed hair from when he set himself on fire filming a commercial for Pepsi in the 80s was up for grabs not so long ago and went for more than £1,000. Expect plenty more bizarre lots in the future.
Katy Perry’s cupcake trampoline
If twee is your thing then you probably go to bed every night and dream of cupcake trampolines only to be awaken by a cruel alarm clock that drags you back into the drab world the rest of us inhabit. If so then here’s another crushing blow, an actual cupcake trampoline - used in the video for Katy Perry’s ‘California Dreams’ which actually exists and everything - was bought by some sod for nearly $5,000 when EMI raised money for Japan in 2011 following the earthquake and tsunami. The actual original Birkin bag designed by Hermes for Jane Birkin - singer, actress and Gainsbourg muse - was also up for grabs.