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6 of the Strangest Items Ever Sold at Auction

From fine art to classic cars, many incredibly valuable items have been offered up at auction. But while some bidders have their sights set on buying a prized gem, others are more keen on bidding for quirky and unusual items that are once-in-a-lifetime finds. Certain people will pay any price for the chance to add a weird relic to their collection, whether it’s a decades-old pastry or even the surgically removed body part of a famous musician. Here are six of the strangest items ever sold at auction.

A Slice of Cake From Queen Elizabeth II’s Wedding

On November 20, 1947, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were married in a lavish ceremony. Following the service, a reception was held at Buckingham Palace, where the 2,000 guests in attendance were each given a slice of the 9-foot-tall, four-tier wedding cake designed by confectioner Fredrick Schur. The indulgent cake included ingredients from across the British empire: dried fruit from Australia, butter from New Zealand, flour from Canada, brandy from South Africa, and Jamaican rum. But while some guests chowed down on the delicious dessert, others held on to their portions for decades to come.

In 2013, a slice of said cake went up for sale at Christie’s auction house, with an eventual hammer price of £1,750 (more than $2,000 today). The slice was wrapped and placed in a box inscribed with the words “EP Buckingham Palace 20th November 1947.” The package also included a card reading, “With the Best Wishes of Their Royal Highnesses The Princess Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh.” Despite some evident decay, the dessert — which had been given to a man who formed part of the Guard of Honour at the royal wedding — attracted many bids. Two years later, in 2015, yet another slice of the cake went up for auction, this one selling for £500 (around $610 now). 2022 saw a portion of Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding cake go up for sale yet again, and this time the auction house warned potential buyers that the item is no longer edible.

The Self-Destructing Banksy Painting

Banksy is an anonymous graffitist who is heralded as one of modern art’s most prolific figures. Among his most notable works is 2006’s “Girl with Balloon,” a canvas version of which was put up for auction in 2018. Moments after the work sold for $1.37 million, a motor within the painting’s frame initiated a self-destruct sequence. The canvas began slowly descending through the frame, which shredded part of the spray-painted work into dangling strips while a shocked auction gallery looked on.

Banksy — who later posted an anonymous video taking credit for the self-destructive act — claimed that he had installed the shredder to destroy the painting should it ever be auctioned. While Banksy’s intent may have been to render the painting worthless, it did quite the opposite. In 2021, the partially shredded work, now renamed “Love Is in the Bin,” went up for auction yet again, this time selling for $25.4 million.

John Lennon’s tooth

Sometime between the years 1964 and 1968, the Beatles’ John Lennon gave his housekeeper, Dot Jarlett, a tooth of his to dispose of. Lennon had had the tooth removedat the dentist earlier that day, though later changed course and said that Jarlett should give the tooth to her daughter, who was a huge Beatles fanatic. The family held on to Lennon’s stained and partially rotted tooth for decades before the molar ultimately hit the auction block in 2011, when it sold for $31,200. The tooth was purchased by a Canadian dentist named Michael Zuk, who even wrote a book about celebrity teeth. He claimed that when he heard about the auction, he “had to have it.” Oddly enough, the tooth isn’t the only body part of a famous musician to sell for thousands. In 2009, a lock of Elvis Presley’s hair from the year 1958 sold for $18,300.

Justin Timberlake’s Leftover French Toast

Around the early 2000s, eBay was all the rage, as the online auction site had debuted just a few years prior. At the same time, few bands were more popular than ’N Sync, and heartthrob Justin Timberlake was a member. On March 9, 2000, Timberlake participated in an interview at New York’s Z-100 radio station, during which he partially consumed some French toast. Rather than throw the two slices of uneaten French toast in the trash, the station DJ took the food and listed it on eBay. The half-eaten breakfast sold for $1,025 to 19-year-old ’N Sync superfan Kathy Summers, who claimed that she planned to “probably freeze-dry it, then seal it… then put it on my dresser.”

The World’s Largest Cat Painting

In 2015, Sotheby’s put the purr-fect painting up for auction. Considered the world’s largest cat painting, “My Wife’s Lovers” was created around 1893 by Austrian artist Carl Kahler, who spent three years on it. The painting measures 75 inches by 102 inches and weighs a staggering 227 pounds — so humongous that Sotheby’s had to construct a special reinforced wall to ensure it could be safely displayed.

Kahler was commissioned to create the painting by San Francisco philanthropist Kate Birdsall Johnson, a devoted cat lover who cared for around 350 cats. Of those 350, 42 made it into the piece, most prominently her cat Sultan, who had been purchased for $3,000 on a trip to Paris. Cat lovers came out in droves to view the painting in person while it was on display prior to the auction, with the work ultimately selling for a whopping $826,000.

The Roman Empire

In 2015, Sotheby’s put the purr-fect painting up for auction. Considered the world’s largest cat painting, “My Wife’s Lovers” was created around 1893 by Austrian artist Carl Kahler, who spent three years on it. The painting measures 75 inches by 102 inches and weighs a staggering 227 pounds — so humongous that Sotheby’s had to construct a special reinforced wall to ensure it could be safely displayed.

Kahler was commissioned to create the painting by San Francisco philanthropist Kate Birdsall Johnson, a devoted cat lover who cared for around 350 cats. Of those 350, 42 made it into the piece, most prominently her cat Sultan, who had been purchased for $3,000 on a trip to Paris. Cat lovers came out in droves to view the painting in person while it was on display prior to the auction, with the work ultimately selling for a whopping $826,000.

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