Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Going Once

Artist Damien Hirst made headlines and lots of cash this week by auctioning off some of his bizarre artworks. Already he's sold a pickled tiger shark for $17 million, and a gold-crowned bull (I can't find an image of this one, but here's a similar work by the artist) for $18.6 million.

Call me stodgy and unimaginative, but I don't call this art. Embalming, definitely, or maybe -- stretching a definition a bit here -- creative taxidermy. But not art. Nor can I see paying millions for the privilege of parking a large dead critter in a tank of formaldehyde in the living room, but hey, I'm cheap that way.

It did make me wonder what my heirs might decide to auction off after I'm gone (one can only specify and control so much in a will.) I don't have a lot in the way of personal possessions, just my books, art, and quilts. Well, several decades of unpublished writing and terrible poetry, but I'm slowly destroying everything I don't want published posthumously, so 99% of that won't be around. I think my journals would only be of interest to my loved ones, but after seeing how Ted Hughes edited what the world saw of Sylvia Plath's, I might burn those, too.

If my kids don't want them, I'd like to my books to go to a public library, and my antique quilts to a museum. The art, eh. I can't see anyone paying a dime for my own paintings, but I have a very small collection of some nice pieces by other artists, including the original cover paintings for Shockball and Beyond Varallan. Art is personal, so I'd like those to stay in the family if possible. If not, then I'd like to see them auctioned off to benefit a public school arts program.

What would you like to see happen to your stuff after you're gone?


  1. i want my heirs to sell them so they can use the money to pay either for their college education or their children's educatio.

  2. Hmm, there is a fair chance that I won't have children to take care of my effects so I'll have to find someone I think worthy to hand them off too before I die.

    I hope that I'll have books published and I'll probably, like you, destroy those things that should never see the light of day, such as the first draft of a novel I've managed to turn into something actually decent.

    If I do outlive my mom, I will likely have several quilts from her and other antiques that I hope will go to a good home, perhaps a museum as you have mentioned. Good idea actually. At the very least to someone who will appreciate them.

    My boos? I hope they go to someone who will love them just as much as I do.

  3. If my family can find anyone, anywhere who will pay for any of my drawings I hope they take the money and run!

  4. Your post reminds me that I need to clean out the basement. There is way too much junk. Also, although my kids would love having a dead shark in our living room, the smell of formaldehyde (did I spell that right?) makes me ill.

    I sometimes think about all my stuff and have come to the conclusion that if I'm dead, I'm probably in a place where I don't care. However, the basement still needs to be de-cluttered.

  5. Everything goes to my brother, and if he predeceases me, to my nephews. I have some things that came from my parents that I'd like the boys (Ok, they're young men.) There's some of my mother's jewelry that I hope they gift to their wives. (Which I might do before I go, providing they are married.) Donate all the books to a library or Salvation Army store where they can sell them to do good works. Please keep a copy of each book I've written so your kids can read them when they're old enough, if they're interested. Anything else, keep what you like, donate or sell the rest and help fund your kids' college educations.

  6. His 'art' is interesting looking. I can't help but think that kind of money could've gone to so many wonderful causes. Wow, that sounded really grown up. :-O

    As for my things, I really hope no one publishes my journals. That would be scary. I'd like my saddle to go to someone who'll take care of it and best of all use it. :) My other things can be divided up or kept, depending on what dh wants. As long as the items are put to good use by someone, I don't really mind.

  7. Anonymous12:39 PM

    I hope to downsize greatly before I'm gone. My grandmother tried to do this and everyone dissuaded her. Now I see her brilliance.
    I don't have many valuable pieces of are either, so I hope to sound-out my children on what they like as they get older, and then just tag it. The same goes for a few pieces or furniture and china than have been in the family for a long time. I suspect the biggest thing they will have to deal with will be my books. I would trust them to find good homes for anything they didn't take themselves.
    I like the idea of supporting education -- both for my decendents, and in my community, so this is what I hope to do throughout my life.

  8. I suspect my sisters and/or nieces and nephews will spend a lot of time cursing me as they go through all my prized possessions trying to find anything of real value. Who cares. I'll be dead.

  9. Eek. I'd better leave instructions for my hard drives to be reformatted.

  10. I would hope that my collection of books would be passed down to each generation. Aside from that, it really is up to them - I will have moved on.

  11. Anonymous3:36 PM

    I tend to be the type of person who enjoys the heck out of things while while I have them. I don't save things back for special occasions like my mom does. I'm either using it and enjoying it, or it's out the door.

    So, when I'm gone, I hope my family does the same. Keep what you want, enjoy it, and don't feel guilty about getting rid of the rest.

  12. Mary wrote: Please keep a copy of each book I've written so your kids can read them when they're old enough, if they're interested. Anything else, keep what you like, donate or sell the rest and help fund your kids' college educations.

    One thing I've made sure of is that all the books I own that are signed for me or dedicated to me in some way by other authors will go to the heir who is a voracious reader and has promised to take good care of them, along with some other items that were personally special to me. I would love for there to be enough wealth in my estate to build and maintain a library for writers, and if by some miracle that's possible, I would arrange for my private library to be kept intact there, if for no other reason than to get a glimpse of what we were reading during this era in time.

  13. Jordan wrote: ...I really hope no one publishes my journals. That would be scary.

    Agreed. That's why a few years ago I began sorting through and destroying certain things that I never wanted anyone else to read (I have at least twenty-seven boxes to go through, so it's going to take a while.) I've also drafted one trusted family member who has agreed to destroy all of my private journals if I die unexpectedly before I can finish the job. You've got to protect your privacy, even from the grave.


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