David Bowie was honored at last weekend’s Burning Man Festival, but there are conflicting reports over the exact nature of the ceremony.
On Sunday, E! News reported that Iman, Bowie’s wife, granted the music legend’s godchild permission to take some of his ashes to the annual gathering, which took place in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert over Labor Day weekend.
“David’s godchild and David had long talks about Burning Man and what it stands for, and David loved the message behind it,” an E! News “source” explained.
However, Bowie’s son, Duncan Jones, quickly dismissed the report on Twitter, writing, “That Burning Man thing? What people will do & say for attention never ceases to amaze me. Not true. Kind of a gross claim as well.” Bowie’s publicist doubled down in a statement to the Independent, saying, “There is no truth in the story.”
The story’s origin can be traced back to Mark Milhaly, who runs the Burning Man-themed blog Burn. Life. Citing “trusted associates,” Milhaly claimed that Bowie’s ashes were placed inside the Temple, a structure which is built to remember attendees’ lost loved ones and is later burned toward the end of the festival.
Despite Jones’ public denial, Milhaly stood by his story in an interview with the Telegraph. “There’s no question it’s true. I’ve spoken to multiple people who were there, including an art car owner, who was in the procession and [who] is in contact with Bowie’s family.”
“I’ve also seen photographs, which I’m not allowed to share out of respect,” Milhaly added. “The family member who brought the ashes requested to be taken out of my piece, so I removed him/her from my article and post.. It was apparently supposed to be a fairly private affair, but when you have dozens of people at something it’s unlikely to remain totally private.”
Milhaly also shared a video tribute to Bowie using Burning Man footage:
In his will, Bowie asked that his body be cremated, preferably in Bali “in accordance with the Buddhist rituals”.