In a particularly unusual series of events, the tooth of famed Beatle and pop culture icon will be used to help promote children’s dental health, through its incorporation into a statue of the late singer. The tooth was originally given to Lennon’s housekeeper in the 1960s for disposal or for her to keep if desired. It was eventually auctioned off through an English auction house, and purchased for $32,000 by a Canadian dentist named Dr. Michael Zuk. A small portion of the tooth has been used in the statue, with plans for the remainder of the tooth remaining a mystery.
Buying a Piece of Dental History
Dr. Zuk, who works in Alberta, Canada, is the third owner of this unique piece of rock and oral health history. After Lennon’s housekeeper, whose name was Dot Jarlett, received the tooth in the late 1960s, it found its way into the hands of Alan McGee, who was a co-founder of Creation Records. McGee built up a notable collection of rock memorabilia, and it was he who eventually released the collection for sale with Omega Auctions in Stockport, England. The auction took place in November, 2011, and Dr. Zuk was the lucky bidder.
According to Dr. Zuk, he had very little doubt over the wisdom of this purchase. “Once I heard (the tooth) was up for sale I had to have it,” he stated in an interview with the BBC last year.
Creating Art for the Benefit of Impoverished Children
Yet Dr. Zuk was not the only person to benefit from his purchase. Shortly after purchasing the tooth, he had the idea that art could be made from small pieces of it. His sister, Kirsten Zuk, is an artist and was a natural choice to do something using a piece of the legendary tooth. “I love John Lennon – I’ve been a huge fan all my life,” she stated, and has now turned that fandom into a three-dimensional homage to the singer. Zuk’s sculpture has the small piece of tooth built into the work, and shows Lennon in his younger days, with shaggy hair and a delivery-boy cap.
Kirsten Zuk, who lives in Edmonton, Canada, is also excited about the timeless aspect of this project. In her words, “this is like a time capsule, it will contain his DNA.” In this way, the sculpture will serve as a long-term memorial of a man who lived such a short life, with unknown implications for future use as DNA technology rapidly expands.
Another benefit of the statue is its potential charity use. Kirsten Zuk hopes to use the sculpture to increase funding and awareness for a children’s charity called Smile Train. This organization works to provide children who live in poverty with surgeries to repair cleft lips and palates, transforming their lives and futures with a simple, inexpensive procedure. She plans to exhibit the sculpture at Edmonton’s Fringe Festival.