Naturally, there is more to the story.
[snip] Oil businessman and adventurer Tom Slick first heard accounts of the possible existence of a “Yeti hand” held as a ritual artifact in the monastery at Pangboche during one of his first “Abominable Snowman” treks in 1957. The Slick expeditions were the first to bring photographs of the hand back to the West.
During later Tom Slick-sponsored expeditions in and around the Himalayas, his associates gathered more information on the “Pangboche hand,” and an effort to further examine it was planned. In 1959 Peter Byrne, a member of Slick’s expedition that year, reportedly stole pieces of the artifact after the monks who owned it refused to allow its removal for study. Byrne claimed to have replaced the stolen bone fragments with human bones, rewrapping the hand to disguise his theft.
Byrne smuggled the bones from Nepal into India, after which actor James Stewart allegedly smuggled the hand out of the country in his luggage. Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman rediscovered this story while writing Tom Slick’s biography in the 1980s. Coleman confirmed details of the incidents with written materials in the Slick archives, interviews with Byrne, and correspondence with Stewart. Byrne later confirmed the Pangboche hand story via a letter from Stewart that Byrne published in a general book on Nepalese wildlife.... London University primatologist William Charles Osman Hill conducted a physical examination of the pieces that Byrne supplied. His first findings were that it was hominid, and later in 1960 he decided that the Pangboche fragments were a closer match with a Neanderthal.
In 1991, in conjunction with Coleman’s research, it was discovered that the Slick expedition consultant, an American anthropologist by the name of George Agogino, had retained samples of the alleged Yeti hand. The NBC program Unsolved Mysteries obtained samples and determined they were similar to human tissue, but were not human, and could only verify they were “near human.” After the broadcast of the program, the entire hand was stolen from the Pangboche monastery, and reportedly disappeared into a private collection via the illegal underground in the sale of antiquities. George Agogino, before his death on September 11, 2000, transferred his important files on the Pangboche Yeti hand to Loren Coleman. [/snip]
The Jimmie Stewart connection is interesting:
Then, in 1957, Tom Slick, a wealthy American oilman, funded a series of expeditions to investigate Yetis.
He became obsessed after hearing about them on business trips to India.
It was a year later, during one of the expeditions funded by Slick, that the Irish-American explorer Peter Byrne heard two Sherpas mention the word Meh-te.
When quizzed, they told him about the ancient Yeti hand preserved in the Pangboche Monastery. Days of trekking through treacherous passes with the ever-constant threat of avalanches followed as Byrne made his way to the magnificent monastery.
He remembers walking the halls by candlelight and being led to the room which contained the Pangboche hand. It was covered with crusted black, broken skin, Byrne says.
He sent a runner over the border to India with a message for Slick about his find. It took three days for the return telegram to arrive with instructions from Slick to obtain the hand and to bring it to London.
But the monks refused to let Byrne take their revered object, explaining that if they let it go, it would bring down a curse on the monastery. Slick was determined, however. He arranged to meet Byrne in London, where they were joined by world-renowned primatologist Professor William Osman Hill.
The venue was the restaurant at Regents Park Zoo, where the professor was employed dissecting and embalming dead animals.
During the meal, Osman Hill told Byrne that he had to get hold of at least one finger from the hand because he wanted it to be scientifically analysed.
The professor who had links to the Royal College of Surgeons then reached under the table and brought out a brown paper bag.
He tipped a human hand onto the table, and suggested Byrne replace the finger with a human one.
Slick could only exclaim: I take it thats not dessert?
Byrne returned to the monastery, and although the monks were reluctant, they eventually agreed to part with the finger for £100 only if Byrne could find a way of disguising the missing digit.
The mountaineer wired the human finger on to the relic, before painting it with iodine to make it look the same colour as the rest of the hand. He now faced a perilous journey home.
In the previous year, the Nepalese government bizarrely had brought in a law making it illegal for foreigners to kill a Yeti.
Thus, Byrne took a risk by trekking on foot over the border into India with the digit. The challenge was to smuggle it back to London by plane without the authorities finding it and asking awkward questions.
Slick, as ever, had a solution. An old hunting buddy of his was in India and might be able to assist Byrne. The friend turned out to be none other than the movie star Jimmy Stewart.
Slick knew that Stewart was on holiday in Calcutta and thought he might be sufficiently intrigued by the Yeti legend to help out. So a meeting was arranged in the Grand Hotel in Calcutta with Byrne, Mr Stewart and his wife Gloria.
His instincts were right. The Stewarts were happy to go along with it. In order to dodge customs, Gloria hid the finger in her lingerie case and they flew out of India with no trouble.
Back in London, the finger was handed over to Professor Osman Hill for examination. Chillingly, his tests which involved comparisons with human hands concluded that it was not human.
The Stewarts were smugglers. LOL