Deceased celebrities who grew too fond of prescription drugs left behind evidence of their habits, in the form of pharmacy bottles. These macabre artifacts now widely circulate at auction houses.
Fans collect the containers to better understand which chemicals coursed through the bloodstreams of the stars and in some cases ruined careers and lives.
In the last few years, Heritage Auctions in Dallas has offered bottles from the 1970s that originally contained Elvis Presley’s doses of valium, Dexedrine, tetracycline and the beta blocker Inderal. Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles has offered a smattering of Elvis’s medication bottles from the 1970s, two of which sold for over $6000 each, as well as containers for Michael Jackson’s pain relievers, assortments of Truman Capote’s prescribed drugs and Marilyn Monroe’s barbiturates and anti-allergy pills. Vessels for non-lethal drugs prescribed for Jack Kevorkian have come on the market, too.
The market has become so feverish that some living celebrities take precautions to protect themselves from any souvenir hunters scrounging in their garbage bins. When they throw out prescription medicine containers, Julien says, “they take off the labels.”