#2. Sold into Marriage
In China, there is a traditional practice known as "minghun," or "ghost marriage," in which two dead persons are married so that their spirits don't have to wander through the afterlife alone. And yes, you actually have the corpses there for the ceremony.
This may seem crushingly depressing at first glance, but the underlying idea is actually quite positive -- the wedded couple can have a happy (and potentially sexy) afterlife, and the living members of their families can bond, which is very useful when resources are scarce, like in poor farming communities where evidently people just can't afford to tie the knot until they're ripped from their mortal coil by the cold grip of eternity.
"I hate you so goddamn much. I want a ghost divorce."
Until recently, communist oppression caused this tradition to fall out of practice, and it was almost lost to history. While it still isn't exactly common today, ghost marriage holds heavy psychological sway in the rural areas where the practice has been revived. So much so, in fact, that people will pay 10,000 yuan ($1,200) as dowry to the corpse-bride's family, even though this is nearly four times the average annual income of a Chinese farmer. Not only does this make families even more eager to wed off their daughters, but it's also inspired a cottage industry in grave robbing, because anything worth selling is worth stealing.
Consequently, a few years ago the inevitable happened -- one corpse was married to two different husbands. Ms. Wu, a woman from the Hebei province near Beijing, may have the world's most marriageable corpse (her living body, apparently, could not be given away). After her death, her parents won a dowry of $5,500 (35,000 yuan) for wedding her to another eligible dead person. She eloped a few days later, or rather was stolen by a band of grave robbers who had arranged for her to be married to another rotting suitor (Chinese women, it seems, have as many rights in death as they do in life).
To be fair, she was totally hot.
This time, she only earned 30,000 yuan -- a 5,000 yuan discount to make up for "physical decay."
In April of 1955, Thomas Harvey was on call as a pathologist at the Princeton Hospital when the body of his idol, Albert Einstein, was rolled in. Einstein's wishes were to be cremated, and the ashes secretly scattered -- he didn't want his resting place turned into a tourist attraction. So, displaying a touching level of reverence for his departed hero, Thomas Harvey chose to remove Einstein's brain and eyes and put them in a jar.
His dates were even less impressed.
Harvey would later claim that an autopsy had been requested, although there was no documentation to support this, and anyway "autopsy" in no way rhymes with "take out his brain and put it in a jar." He briefly saved his job when Einstein's son gave him retroactive permission to remove and study the brain, on the condition that Harvey must share it with other scientists. When it became clear that Harvey had no intention of sharing, Princeton fired him for good.
"Fine, I'm outtie. You guys are assholes."
Despite being aware of everything we just explained in the last paragraph, they inexplicably thought this meant that Harvey would give Einstein's brain to them. He didn't. Instead, he took the brain to another hospital, where technicians divided it into cubes. It's the brain of Einstein, what else were they going to do?
For the next 40 years, Harvey and Einstein's brain would be partners in the world's strangest bromance. Although Harvey shipped some of the cubes to researchers upon request in whatever containers he could find (including used food jars), he kept the majority of it, constantly claiming that he was just about to have a breakthrough (how, or in what, is unclear). When Harvey took a road trip across the country to see Einstein's granddaughter, the brain rode along in the back. He even accidentally left the brain at the granddaughter's house (this is after stealing it from Einstein's corpse and defrauding an institution to keep it for himself).
"I assure you it's perfectly safe to eat. Though I wouldn't try this particular piece because I just fucked it."
Finally, Harvey did the right thing and returned the brain to Princeton. But the eyes are now sitting in a vault in New York, presumably waiting to appreciate in value.
For more things done with rotting meatbags, check out The 6 Coolest Things You Can Do With Your Dead Body. Or check out the The 11 Most Badass Last Words Ever Uttered.