The Breakfast at Tiffany's writer died in 1984 and his ashes were kept by his good friend Joanne Carson, the wife of U.S. TV host Johnny Carson, but her estate were unsure what to do with the remains after she died last year (15).

The ashes, which are kept in a Japanese carved wooden box and marked with his date of death, are now being sold by Julien's Auctions in Los Angeles for an estimated $4,000 (£3,000) to $6,000 (£4,600) on 23 and 24 September (16).

Darren Julien, boss of the auction house, defended the sale to Vanity Fair, claiming the In Cold Blood author would have loved the attention.

“I am sure people are going to think this is disrespectful,” he said. “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.”

Julien had never heard of celebrity ashes being sold before and he says he probably would have passed on them if they didn't belong to Capote, who he believes would have approved.

According to the description on their website, the ashes gave Carson "great comfort". Capote and Carson became good friends in 1974 when he was edited her memoir, which she later abandoned. He had a writing room in her home and died there on 25 August 1984, aged 59.