Orson Welles’ Oscar Sold at Auction

December always marks the beginning of Oscar fever; even your parents are putting together Oscar nomination pools, eagerly anticipating February’s awards ceremony. Some folks are even getting into the action a few months early by throwing lots of money away to purchase a piece of Hollywood history. That’s right: the little gold man awarded to Orson Welles back in 1941 has sold for a whopping $862,542. 

Welles received the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for his magnum opus Citizen Kane; he shared the award with Herman J. Mankiewicz. It was the only award the film, nearly unanimously considered to be the best ever made, won, although it was nominated for eight others (including Best Picture and Best Actor). It was the only Oscar Welles won; he was awarded an honorary award at the 1970 Academy Awards “for superlative artistry and versatility in the creation of motion pictures.”

Since both the seller and the buyer wished to remain anonymous, one would think that this story would be fairly uninteresting. Deadline, however, provides some fun facts about the statuette:

Underbidder David Copperfield had been eager to acquire the statuette because Welles apparently was something of a magician himself. Copperfield already owns many props from the movie. It’s rare for an Oscar statuette to be sold because since 1950 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has stipulated that all recipients sign a contract giving the organization the right to repurchase the statuette for $1. For a long time the Oscar was lost but it resurfaced when a cinematographer who said Welles had given it to him as payment. Welles’ daughter Beatrice sued and won custody of the statuette. Then the Academy sued her when she tried to auction it in 2003. She won the right to dispense of the Oscar and sold it to a nonprofit that tried unsuccessfully to sell it auction. Sotheby’s also was unsuccessful when it tried to auction the golden guy in 2007 but failed to meet the undisclosed reserve price.

Am I the only one who thinks that could be a pretty good movie, kinda like The Red Violin but all in English and with David Copperfield instead of Samuel L. Jackson? Get on that, Hollywood.

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