Lot’s of strange things belonging to celebrities have been auctioned off. Driver’s license, empty prescription bottles, even kidney stones. But you usually can’t buy the celebrity themselves.
More than 30 years after Truman Capote’s death, his ashes will be sold next month as part of an auction marketed as a rare “peek inside the lives of some of Hollywood’s most private stars.” Julien’s Auction House C.E.O., Darren Julien, says,
“I am sure people are going to think this is disrespectful. But this is a fact: Truman Capote loved the element of shock. He loved publicity. And I’m sure he’s looking down laughing, and saying, ‘That’s something I would have done.’ He was a larger-than-life character.
Basically, the estate didn’t know what to do with them And yes, before figuring out a conservative estimate of what they might go for—$4,000 to $6,000—the auction house did mull over the ethical implications of selling off Capote’s remains to the highest bidder.
We contemplated doing it, but because they are Truman Capote’s, this is probably what he would have wanted done. I’ve never heard of ashes being sold before, but between us and Christie’s and some other auction houses, we’ve sold some crazy other things. But I think this will be at the top of the list.”
…Christie’s sold Napoleon’s penis years ago. And we sold William Shatner’s kidney stone for $75,000. There’s all kinds of precedents for this. Like I said, if it wasn’t Truman Capote, we would pass because we wouldn’t want to be disrespectful. And the antics he was always up to, and how much he loved press—it’s no question that that is something he would have wanted done.”
As Vanity Fair tells the saga, the ashes themselves have had their own wild life.
Capote died in 1984 while inside Carson’s Bel-Air home, and Capote’s remains were reportedly divided between Carson and the author’s companion Jack Dunphy. According to Page Six, Carson kept the ashes in an urn in the room where he died. The remains were stolen twice, however—once during a 1988 Halloween party (before being mysteriously returned), and again at a party Carson hosted (with the urn in attendance) for a play about Capote. The culprit, however, did not make it out the door with the remains. In 2013, the ashes were even invited to the opening-night gala of Broadway’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. (“We did try to get him here,” a Breakfast rep confirmed at the time. “Joanne says he always wanted to (see) Holly Golightly open on Broadway, and we thought it would have been poignant for the entire company.”) Alas, Carson did not want to risk another theft.”
The cardboard box—which measures three-by-four-by-four inches—is affixed with a label from Grand View Memorial Park Crematory guaranteeing that the ashes inside are indeed Capote’s. They are estimated to sell for between $4,000 and $6,000. (Multiply x 10, I say.)
The auction will take place at Julien’s September 23 and 24 in Los Angeles. You can find out more here.
(T/Y Tad; Photos, Andy Warhol; via Vanity Fair)