Is it too soon for a Whitney Houston auction?

Dresses and jewellery worn by Whitney Houston will be included at a celebrity auction in Los Angeles in late March, it was announced a day after the pop diva was laid to rest.

"In a rare twist of fate," several items from her musical career and movie appearances will be available, "as if the pop legend was determined to keep her presence alive," said celebrity auction house Julien's Auctions.

Included will be a black velvet dress with metallic silver ribbon with an estimated asking price of $1000-$2000 and faux pearl drop earrings worn by Houston in the hit 1992 movie The Bodyguard, expected to fetch $600-$800.

"Other items include jewellery and costumes from Houston's appearance in film and on stage," the auction house said a written statement.

Celebrity auctioneer Darren Julien defended the timing of the auction.

"It's a celebration of her life," Julien said. "If you hide these things in fear that you're going to offend someone - her life is to be celebrated. These items are historic now that she passed. They become a part of history. They should be in museums.

"She's lived a life and had a career that nobody else has ever had."

Houston was found dead on February 11 in her Los Angeles hotel room. A funeral ceremony celebrating her life was held on Saturday, the day before she was laid to rest in a New Jersey cemetery next to her late father.

Houston, who was just 48, sold more than 170 million records during a nearly three-decade career, but she fought a long and public battle against substance abuse while trying to keep her performing talent alive.

Speculation has raged since her death that the singer may have succumbed to a lethal cocktail of prescription drugs and alcohol, though official results from her autopsy may not be made public for several weeks.

- AFP with AP

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