In Cold Blood: Original 1959 Case Files Up for Auction

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Vintage Memorabilia of Seattle to auction cache of never-before-published crime scene investigation notes, photos, confessions, and documents, along with rare letters from Truman Capote while he was researching the Clutter murder case for his bestselling book, IN COLD BLOOD.

Clutter Murder Case Archive Auction

Clutter Murder Case Archive Auction

"...when the execution day came, dad stood next to Truman as they watched the boys hang for their crimes." — Ronald Nye

Vintage Memorabilia, a global dealer in authentic original autographs, letters, photographs, manuscripts, and historic memorabilia, will auction the first extensive archive of investigative evidence ever released in connection with the gruesome 1959 murders of the Herbert Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas—the compelling subject of Truman Capote’s 1965 bestselling book, In Cold Blood.

The sealed bid auction, comprising the extensive personal investigative archives of Special Agent Harold Nye—the youngest of four Kansas Bureau of Investigation detectives assigned to the case—features never-before-seen letters sent from Capote to Agent Nye discussing intimate details of the case years before the book was published. In one letter Capote laments, “…I assume the Kansas Supreme Court will have set a new execution date for Perry and Dick. And now I suppose they will go into the federal courts, and the whole thing will drag on into eternity! No, I'm not bloodthirsty either, but I do wish the damn thing would end. So that I can finish the book before I'm too old and feeble to hold a pen.”

Also highlighted in the auction are hundreds of pages of investigative notebooks and documents, transcripts of interviews with and confessions of the murderers, original crime scene photographs long shielded from the public (and which have been obscured in the online catalog out of respect to the surviving family), fingerprint sheets, mug shots, and rare first editions of Capote’s books, including In Cold Blood signed by the principal KBI detectives as well as the cast and crew of the 1967 film of the same name starring Robert Blake. Even Nelle Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, inscribed a page in Agent Nye’s steno notebooks—six months before Mockingbird was published, making it her earliest known autograph ever to come on the market.

Ronald Nye of Oklahoma City, the son of KBI Agent Harold Nye, felt it was time to let go of his father’s case material. “My dad seldom spoke about the crimes he worked on during 33 years in law enforcement, but the Clutter case was the one exception,” Nye said. “He grew up on a western Kansas wheat farm himself, making it kind of personal. Dad threw himself into the hunt for facts, and he didn't stop until he had gathered the evidence he needed to get a confession.”

On Harold Nye’s relationship with Truman Capote, Nye remarked, “Dad had conflicting feelings about Truman, but over the years they found common ground on which they could respect each other. They spoke on the phone frequently and wrote to each other over the years. Then, when the execution day came, dad stood next to Truman as they watched the boys hang for their crimes.”

“My dad and Truman both sought closure that day, but the experience haunted them for the rest of their lives,” Nye said. “It’s all here in his archives. You can feel the whole experience through dad’s notes.”

Vintage Memorabilia has published a special online presentation featuring the Nye Archive highlighting many of the more important documents and photographs. The sealed bid auction is ongoing through August 31 with a minimum bid of $20,000, and an estimated value likely double that or more.

“We fully expect this auction, and the online catalog itself, to draw the interest of thousands of people around the world,” said Gary McAvoy, president of Vintage Memorabilia. “Given the huge popularity of recent award-winning films based on Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, the Clutter case still resonates deeply in the minds of the millions who read the book or saw the movies.”

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