And the Oscar goes to….?
First I would like to congratulate all of the winners of the 84th Annual Academy Awards, http://oscar.go.com/, what an amazing honor to win an Oscar.
Admittedly, I did not actually watch the Academy Awards this year, but I have been following all of the hype in the news, especially the photos of the amazing evening wear. All of this got me thinking, what happens to the Oscar statuette when a winner dies? The answer is pretty interesting, and leads me a very interesting story about one statuette in particular.
First, what happens to a statuette when the winner dies? According to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_statuette#Oscar_statuette
“Since 1950, the statuettes have been legally encumbered by the requirement that 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.”
Prior to 1950 no agreement was in place regarding the Academy’s ownership of the statuette. Leading to an interesting chain of ownership and legal battles for Orson Welles’ 1942 Oscar, which he received for writing Citizen Kane.
Orson Welles supposedly lost his Oscar. After he died in 1985 the statuette resurfaced and was auctioned by a cinematographer who claimed Welles who used it as a payment to him. Welles daughter, Beatrice, sued and won ownership only to be sued by the Academy. Beatrice ultimately won ownership after the court ruled Orson Welles had not signed the above mentioned agreement. Beatrice sold it to a non-profit, who, unsuccessfully, tried to auction it off in 2007. As of December 2011 it was auctioned off for more than $860,000 to an unnamed bidder.
Hollywood makes great stories, sometimes unintentional!