Nobody can auction or sell an Oscar without first offering to sell it back to the Academy for $1 USD.
Since 1950, the statuettes have been legally kept safe a requirement. Neither winners nor their heirs may sell the statuettes without first offering to sell them back to the Academy for US$1. If a winner refuses to agree to this stipulation, then the Academy keeps the statuette, and they never get to take it home. Awards given out before this stipulation have been sold in public auctions and private deals for a lot of money.
Sell An Oscar
In December 2011, Orson Welles’ 1941 Oscar for Citizen Kane was put up for auction. This happened after his heirs won a 2004 court decision. Their contention was that Welles did not sign any agreement to return the statue to the Academy. On December 20, 2011, it sold in an online auction for $861,542.
In 1992, Harold Russell needed money for his wife’s medical expenses. He sold his 1946 Oscar to Herman Darvick Autograph Auctions. Then on August 6, 1992, his Oscar was re-sold to a private collector for $60,500.
Since he won the award before 1950, he was not required to offer it to the Academy first. Russell defended his decision, saying, “I don’t know why anybody would be critical. My wife’s health is much more important than sentimental reasons. The movie will be here, even if Oscar isn’t.” Harold Russell is the only Academy Award-winning actor to ever sell an Oscar.
While the Oscar is owned by the recipient, it is essentially not on the open market. Michael Todd’s grandson tried to sell his Oscar statuette. He wanted to sell it to a movie prop collector in 1989. But the Academy won the legal battle by getting a permanent injunction. Some Oscar sales transactions have been successful. However some buyers have subsequently returned the statuettes to the Academy, which keeps them in its treasury.
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