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Controversial sale of Oscar statuettes brings $3 million

February 29, 2012 |  5:08 pm


The largest collection of Oscar statuettes ever offered for public sale has been sold for more than $3 million, a Brentwood auctioneer said Wednesday.

The 15 golden figures were sold to three individuals in a sale conducted online, said auctioneer Nate D. Sanders. The auctioneer would not disclose the identities of the bidders.

Thirteen of the statues were purchased by one buyer.

The most expensive statuette was Herman Mankiewicz’s 1941 Best Screenplay Academy Award for “Citizen Kane,” which sold for $588,455. The same award had been purchased in 1999 for $244,500.

The 15 statuettes had been collected by a Los Angeles businessman whom Sanders also declined to identify. However, he described the seller as having ties to the entertainment industry.

The collector decided to sell the statuettes after Sanders sold Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane” screenplay trophy three months ago for $861,542. Welles and Mankiewicz had shared the screenwriting award for the film.

Each of the auctioned statuettes were awarded in the 1930s and ‘40s, before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences began requiring winners to sign a contract promising they and their heirs would not sell the trophy without first offering to sell it back to the Academy for $1.

The auction, which concluded Tuesday night, had been opposed by the filmmakers’ group.

“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 spokeswoman Janet Hill.

“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.”

The 1933 Best Picture Oscar awarded to “Cavalcade” went for the second-highest selling price: $332,165. The 1931 Best Picture statuette won by the film “Skippy” – the oldest in the auction -- sold for $301,973.


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Photo: Nate Sanders with 15 Oscar statues that his auction house will present Tuesday, two days after the Academy Awards. Credit: Bob Chamberlin, Los Angeles Times