Burgled Body Parts

1 minute read

Alas, poor William: researchers in the U.K. who analyzed Shakespeare’s grave with radar imaging said March 23 his skull was likely stolen more than 200 years ago. The playwright joins other noted victims of graveyard robbery.


Sailors stole the remains of St. Nicholas (whom you might know as Santa Claus) in 1087 from what is now Turkey and took them to Bari, Italy, where they are today. The bones are said to emit a healing balm called manna.


Supporters took three fingers and a tooth from the astronomer’s grave in 1737, some 95 years after his death. The fingers went their separate ways until 2010, when they were reunited for display in a Florence museum.


After the composer died in 1809, two admirers bribed a grave digger to give them his skull so they could check for a “bump of music” that might explain his genius. The cranium was only returned to his tomb in 1954.


The physicist left behind instructions to cremate his body, but when he died in 1955 a doctor gave his eyeballs to Einstein’s ophthalmologist, who saved them in a jar that’s now kept in a safe-deposit box.

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Write to Julia Zorthian at julia.zorthian@time.com