Why is Napoleon's penis worth so much and who has it?

Napoleon's penis has always mystified the masses.

Because, for reasons beyond my understanding (possibly yours too), the diminutive French military commander Napoleon Bonaparte's body lies in a crypt under the dome at Les Invalides, in Paris, without many of his body parts – including his penis.

Unfortunately for the 19th-century political leader, it is not just his prowess as a formidable commander on the battlefield, or his adoration of his wife Joséphine de Beauharnais, or even his small stature that has survived him.

It's his penis. Which is detached from his body.

It's something that's had the world riveted since his death and subsequent autopsy in 1821, when Napoleon's doctor allegedly cut off his appendage and gave it to a priest on the island of Corsica, France.

With the release of director Ridley Scott's new war and romance film NAPOLEON, which stars Joaquin Phoenix as the French emperor and Vanessa Kirby as his wife, we're all still looking to answer one of life's greatest mysteries.

Who has Napoleon's penis? And is it... for sale?

Watch the trailer for NAPOLEON. Post continues after video. 

Video via Sony Pictures. 

Who owns Napoleon's penis? 

People have been fixated on the whereabouts of the French military commander's peen for, quite literally, hundreds of years, after it was removed by a rather cruel doctor, Francesco Autommarchi, in front of 17 witnesses.


Now we don't know for sure if the severing of his member was done intentionally or not, but some suggest that the doctor was bribed to cut it off as revenge for Napoleon calling him "impotent".

In any case, s**t happens, and once a d**k is severed, you can't exactly glue it back on.

A priest, Abbé Anges Paul Vignali gained it the appendage for a time, before it was passed down through Vignali’s family, until eventually being bought by American rare books dealer A.S.W. Rosenbach in 1924.

Three years later, it was displayed at the Museum of French Art in New York.

The item was then sold again to a collector, who purchased it and then attempted to sell it at an auction. He was unsuccessful.

The phallus eventually moved to New Jersey after John J. Lattimer, a leading American urologist, bought it at a Paris auction for US$3,000 in 1977... and subsequently kept it under his bed for 30 years.

It currently belongs to his daughter, Evan Lattimer.

The relic – which has been described as a "maltreated strip of buckskin shoelace" and a "piece of leather, or a shrivelled eel" – is affectionately known as "Napoleon's Item" by the Lattimer family.

Why is Napoleon's penis now worth $100,000?

After Lattimer inherited a literal penis, she claims she's fielded a US$100,000 offer for the "item", which has been measured at a modest one-and-a-half inches.


In the Channel 4 series, Dead Famous DNA, presenter Mark Evans went on a mission to see it for himself. Unfortunately, we did not get to actually look at it in its current state (although one can imagine what a badly preserved piece of meat could look like after 200 years).

Tony Perrottet, author of the book Napoleon’s Privates, is among the very few who have been able to see Napoleon's pride and joy in person (in fact, he's one of just 10 that Lattimer has allowed to see it).

"It was kind of an amazing thing to behold. There it was: Napoleon’s penis sitting on cotton wool, very beautifully laid out, and it was very small, very shrivelled, about an inch and a half long. It was like a little baby's finger," Perrottet said, according to Bizzarobazar.

"Dad believed that urology should be proper and decent and not a joke," said Lattimer. "It’s very small, but it’s famous for being small. It’s perfect structurally, the university has done X-rays and examinations and it’s obviously what it is."

While Perrottet was not allowed to take a photo of the severed, er, soldier, he was able to create a replica of it.

"I've seen a lot of penises, from a chihuahua to a sperm whale. This is so withered," said Evans in his description of the renowned Frenchman's penis. 

"The last place I would have expected to find it is in New Jersey. It’s strange how the withered penis has ventured further around the world than Napoleon ever did."

Feature Image: Sony Pictures/Mamamia.

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