10 JD Salinger’s toilet
Death limits agency. You might spend your entire life as a recluse, but after you die the woman who buys your old house will put your toilet on eBay for a million bucks, advertised as “uncleaned and in its original condition”. “Who knows how many of Salinger’s stories were thought up and written while [he] sat on this throne,” speculation-loving homeowner Joan Littlewood wrote.
9 Truman Capote’s ashes
When the sometime writer and full-time fop died in 1984 at 59, his ashes were retained by his good friend Joanne Carson, wife of Johnny. When she passed on in 2016, they were sold for £33,000 by Julien’s Auctions, with the caveat that they should be taken out to parties. Auction house patron Darren Julien reasoned that Capote “loved to create press opportunities and to read his name in the paper. I think he would love it that he’s still grabbing headlines today.”
8 Elvis Presley’s Bible
A copy of the King James version was given to Elvis by his aunt and uncle to celebrate his first Christmas at Graceland; eventually, it was sold at auction for £59,000. Norm Conrad, the curator of the Museum of the Bible, speculated that Elvis’s underlinings and marginalia reflected themes of “trusting God”.
7 Niall Horan’s toast
When the least charismatic member of One Direction failed to finish his breakfast one morning in 2012, the Australian TV show he was appearing on decided to remarket the leftover carbohydrates. Soon enough, the bidding topped $100,000 on eBay. It is unclear, though, whether money or toast ever changed hands. But the auction had precedent. At the height of *Nsync’s fame, a half-eaten piece of Justin Timberlake’s French toast went for $3,154.
6 Madonna’s breakup letter from Tupac Shakur
Only days ago, Madonna lost a legal bid to stop the auction of personal effects she had given to Darlene Lutz, a former friend. They included a hairbrush with strands of her hair and a breakup letter for a relationship she had only recently acknowledged. Tupac’s plummy letter-writing style certainly didn’t come across on his Death Row albums: “I didn’t mean to hurt you,” he wrote. “Please understand my previous position as that of a young man with limited experience with an extremely famous sex symbol.”
5 William Shatner’s kidney stone
Shatner was shooting Boston Legal in 2005 when he sank to his knees in pain on set. The stone doctors popped out of him was so big, Shatner said, that “you’d want to wear it on your finger”. Clearly, someone agreed – it raised $75,000 for Habitat for Humanity.
4 The mortal remains of Frisky the cat
Frisky spent a decade starring in the opening sequence of Coronation Street. When he succumbed to stomach cancer in 2000, his ashes raised £700 at auction.
3 Justin Bieber’s baby boa
The pop princeling wore the young constrictor on his wrist at the 2011 VMAs. By 2012, though, he had tired of the increasingly large albino snake, called Johnson. It was sold to a reptile-lover, who donated it to a zoo in Minnesota.
2 Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s breath
“We are not guaranteeing this air sample contains air molecules that came in contact with any celebrity epidermal layer or respiratory system,” the seller wrote. “But the sample was captured in proximity of the celebrities and air molecules that did come in direct contact.”
1 Russell Crowe’s jockstrap
When the actor decided to flog off vast amounts of Crowe-abilia earlier this year, to celebrate his divorce from actor Danielle Spencer, he was not only boosting his liquidity and drawing a line under 10 years of marriage; he was also indulging in the kind of mythologising that normally comes only after death. With a customary mix of pomposity and deflation, he titled the sale The Art of Divorce. There was plenty of film memorabilia: a chariot from Gladiator; a violin from Master & Commander. Other items included a pair of 18th-century duelling pistols, cricket paraphernalia from New Zealand legend Martin Crowe – Russell’s cousin – and guitars from Crowe’s terrible band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts. The jockstrap he wore in Cinderella Man was bought by the TV presenter John Oliver, to make one of those fist-pumping visual points he does at the end of his shows. Oliver’s plan, in this case, was to donate it to the last Blockbuster store in Anchorage, Alaska, which has been struggling to stay afloat.