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Last Updated: Friday, 26 October 2007, 04:02 GMT 05:02 UK
Che Guevara hair sold at auction
Lock of Che Guevara's hair sold at auction
The hair was cut from Che Guevara's head after his death
Strands of hair said to have been taken from the corpse of Ernesto Che Guevara by a former CIA operative have sold for $119,000 (58,000) at auction.

It sold to the only bidder, who runs a bookshop near Houston, for the reserve price, plus a buyer's premium.

The Dallas sale prompted protests from Che's widow and his supporters.

The sale is not a first for Heritage Auction Galleries, which has sold locks from the heads of Abraham Lincoln, Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe.

Bill Butler, 61, placed his bid by telephone for the 3-inch (8cm) strand of Che Guevara's hair.

In the same lot were photographs of the dead revolutionary's body and fingerprints taken after he was shot in Bolivia in 1967.

Mr Butler says he plans to display the hair at his bookshop.

Political icon

Heritage Auction Galleries had tightened security for the sale, because of fears of protests from socialists unhappy that profits were being made from the revolutionary's death.

Ernesto Che Guevara having his hair cut on board a barge (21 November 1965)
Che Guevara was trying to foment a revolution in Bolivia when he died

Che is considered an icon by left-wing movements, but critics accuse him of brutally executing his opponents.

An Argentine who became a Cuban guerrilla leader, the 39-year-old was tracked down and killed in the Bolivian jungle by a group of CIA-backed Bolivian soldiers on 9 October 1967.

A former CIA agent, Cuban-born Gustavo Villoldo, who oversaw Che's burial, said he removed the lock of hair and took photos and fingerprints as proof that the mission was completed.

It is these items which have now been auctioned.

Auctioneer Tom Slater said that Mr Villoldo was unhappy with the iconic status Che now has.

"He doesn't like the way Che has become a political icon, so he's anxious to get the whole story out," Mr Slater told the AFP news agency.

"He feels that Che was a murderer and a bandit and it was appropriate to hunt him down."

Latin America's new look at Che
09 Oct 07 |  Americas
Cubans honour Che as a hero
08 Oct 07 |  Americas
Che: The icon and the ad
05 Oct 07 |  Americas

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