Just when you thought the "Body Worlds" exhibition couldn't get any more gross, Plastination pioneer Gunther von Hagens comes up with a stomach-churning new idea: selling slices of human bodies.
According to the mass circulation daily Bild, von Hagens, famous for developing the patented Plastination technique for preserving corpses, has come up with a new business model involving selling cross-sections of bodies prepared in his "Plastinarium" workshop in Guben on the German-Polish border.
Until now, he has only sold cross-sections, where plastinated organs are clearly visible, to universities as teaching materials. But now private individuals will be able to buy slices of corpses too. Von Hagens' assistant Nadine Diwersi told the newspaper: "We are able to quickly produce large quantities with high quality and for a good price."
A cross-section down the length of the body will cost €12,000 ($17,800), while a cross-section across the body will be priced at €250, or €1,600 for a 16-slice set. A typical corpse can produce eight vertical cross-sections or 230 horizontal cross-sections.
However, only a minority of the donated bodies will be available for purchase by private individuals as 80 percent of donors, who make their bodies available free of charge to von Hagens, stipulate that they can only be used "for scientific progress."
There's another hitch: the German law against "disturbing the peace of the dead" which makes it illegal to commit "insulting mischief" with the body parts of the deceased. Diwersi told Bild that their lawyers were currently investigating the conditions under which corpse slices could be sold to private individuals. However, she expressed optimism that "in three or four months, anyone will be able to buy the slices on the Internet or in our Plastinarium."
Around 25 million people have viewed von Hagens' "Body Worlds" exhibitions, which show preserved human specimens in a variety of poses, in cities across Asia, Europe and North America over the last 10 years, according to the "Body Worlds" Web site.