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Academy has orphaned Oscars

February 18, 2009 11:53:30 AM PST
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences requires all Oscar nominees to sign a contract specifying that they will not sell their statuette without first offering it back to the academy for $1. The so-called winner's agreement dates back to 1951, at a time when the organization began to worry about orphaned Oscars winding up in the hands of the highest bidder.

So, how many Oscar winners have sold their statuettes to the academy for a buck?

None, says AMPAS Executive Director Bruce Davis, although Oscars still make their way back to the academy's custody.

"We have statuettes willed back to us fairly regularly - maybe two per year - from recipients who don't have appropriate heirs, or who just want to be sure that nothing undignified ever befalls their Oscar," Davis says.

The academy says it owns almost 100 statuettes that have been returned by winners, heirs, or buyers like Steven Spielberg, who purchased pre-agreement Oscars won by Clark Gable and Bette Davis in order to return them to AMPAS.

Statuettes from the collection occasionally go on display at academy headquarters in Beverly Hills, Calif., and eventually, the organization's long-planned Oscar museum in Hollywood will include space for more of the collection.


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