Some of Beethoven's Hair Just Sold for $58,000
Published Jun 11, 2019While we've seen a lot of wild music auctions over the years, this one is right up there as one of the strangest. A lock of Ludwig Van Beethoven's hair has just sold for a whopping 35,000 pounds. In Canadian dollars, that's about $58,000 — for some dead dude's hair.
The lock of brown and grey hair — now housed in the oval frame you see above — was cut off by the famed composer and then given to pianist Anton Halm in 1826, auction house Sotheby's explained. It was sold as part of the Sotheby's Important Manuscripts, Continental Books and Music sale, and the hair ended up selling for double what was initially estimated.
"Other locks of Beethoven's hair that we have seen have invariably been taken from the composer on his deathbed in 1827, and this is one of the best documented," Sotheby's wrote.
And since everyone loves a great hair story, here's a very detailed description of the hair's origins:
The pianist and composer Anton Halm (1789-1872) got to know Beethoven well, after meeting him in 1815 and playing for him frequently. The composer liked Halm's bluff military manner and apparently bore him no ill-will even after Halm's wayward piano playing in the Choral Fantasia in 1817 brought the performance to a halt. In 1826 Halm made an arrangement of Beethoven's Grosse Fuge op.133 for two pianos and it was evidently during this period that Beethoven gave him this lock.
Halm told Beethoven's great biographer A.W. Thayer (presumably during Thayer's stay in Vienna, 1859-1864) that, while at work on the Grosse Fuge in 1826, he had asked Beethoven's factotum Carl Holz to secure a lock of Beethoven's hair for his wife Maria. The hairs arrived a few days later, supposedly Beethoven's, but in fact cut from a goat. When he had finished his arrangement of the fugue, Halm brought it and the hair to Beethoven. The composer was furious that his friend had been deceived, and promptly snipped off some hair and gave it to him, declaring it to be genuine.