Academy Awards 2012: Oscars arrive; losers can buy one later
Oscar traveled incognito on his big day. About an hour before the start of the Academy Awards, four white-gloved prop masters pushed 49 Academy Award statuettes on a rickety A/V cart through the byzantine backstage area at the Hollywood & Highland Center.
Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Manny Santoyo guarded the little gold men, as their handlers polished them with fluffy blue towels and placed them on a table at stage right, where they'll wait until presenters place them in the winners' hands.
For those who don't go home with a stauette tonight, there will be a chance to buy one come Tuesday.
A record 15 Oscar statuettes — including some awarded for such classics as "Citizen Kane," "How Green Was My Valley" and "Wuthering Heights" — will be sold to the highest bidders during an online and telephone sale conducted by a Brentwood auction house.
The sale of the statuettes is expected to generate as much as $4 million in bids, according to auctioneer Nate D. Sanders. Sanders described the seller of the 15 Oscars only as a Los Angeles-area businessman with ties to the entertainment industry.
The auction is being condemned by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which fiercely guards ownership of the golden trophies and use of the name "Oscar."
All 15 statuettes now up for sale were awarded before 1950. After that date, the academy began requiring winners to sign a contract stating that neither they nor their heirs would sell an Oscar without first offering it to the academy for $1.
"The academy, its members and the many film artists and craftspeople who've won Academy Awards believe strongly that Oscars should be won, not purchased," said academy spokeswoman Janet Hill in a statement. "Unfortunately, because our winners agreement wasn't instituted until 1950, we don't have any legal means of stopping the commoditization of these particular statuettes."
— Rebecca Keegan and Bob Poole
Photo: The 15 Oscars that Nate D. Sanders auction house will present on Tuesday. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times