Truman Capote’s Ashes Could Be Yours

The author’s remains are on the auction block.

Truman Capote has now been dead for thirty-two years. He will go on being dead another thirty-two, at the very least least, but his remains will be given new life, it seems. Just in time for the unfortunate anniversary of Capote’s death (today — August 25th), Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles announced it will be selling the author’s ashes to the highest bidder. The ashes are apparently part of the estate of Johnny Carson’s widow. The story, as reported by Rory Carroll, The Guardian’s man in the City of Angels is packed with odd and eccentric details, and you really should read the full article.

Here are a few choice tidbits:

  • The director of Julien’s told The Guardian: “With some celebrities this wouldn’t be tasteful.” But he was “100% certain” Capote would approve.
  • Ethical deliberation was undertaken.
  • The starting price for the ashes is $2,000.
  • The lot is expected to fetch two to three times that amount.
  • Julien’s is located “between a Food Express and Five Four Clothing store.”
  • William Shatner once auctioned off a kidney stone for charity.
  • Napoleon’s penis is not in his tomb at Les Invalides, as you believed.
  • “The one thing about Truman Capote is he’s highly collectible.”
  • Capote’s ashes have twice been stolen and then recovered.
  • The auction house is hoping a New Yorker will buy the lot.
  • The ashes would make “the ultimate conversation piece.”

On the web page for Lot 501 — the ashes, in their hand-carved Japanese wood box — there’s a link directing you to “similar items.” We couldn’t help but find out, what, exactly, is similar to Truman Capote’s earthly remains.

And so, here are a few other choice items from the auction.

  • Capote’s needlepoint pillows.
  • “Casual hats.”
  • Capote’s snakebite freeze kit.
  • His crime and prison books. (Okay, that’s pretty interesting.)
  • His Baccarat decanters. (Dammit — also pretty cool.)
  • Capote’s “risque” photographs. (This is actually a helluvan auction.)
  • Prescription pill bottles. (Getting weird again, but let’s go with it.)
  • A papier mache parrot. (Wait, what?)
  • Capote’s clothes “at time of death.” (Nah, we’re out.)

The auction will be held on September 24th. That gives you a month to save up. Or you could pop into, say, Green Apple Books or BookCourt or your local indie bookseller, where copies of In Cold Blood go for around $20.

Either way: Truman Capote, R.I.P.

About the Author

More Like This

A Death Reverberates Through Two Marriages in “Late in the Day”

Author Tessa Hadley on art, mourning, and continuing to write while the world falls apart

Jun 27 - Erin Bartnett

In “The Unpassing,” a Taiwanese Family Grieves in the Harsh Wilderness of Rural Alaska

Chia-Chia Lin on how immigrating and pioneering are both ventures into the unknown

May 2 - YZ Chin

Damon Young and Kiese Laymon Discuss Death, Sex, Money, and More

On the "Death, Sex & Money" podcast, the two memoir authors also talked about body image and what it means to be a "good dude"

Apr 26 - Death, Sex & Money