Oscar statuettes sold for $3 mn in auction

LOS ANGELES: A collection of 15 Oscar statuettes which were handed out to recipients, including the writer for "Citizen Kane", fetched more than $3 million at an auction here Tuesday, two days after the 84th Academy Awards ceremony.

A statuette which was won by Herman Mankiewicz for penning the script for the 1941 best screenplay winner "Citizen Kane", grossed $588,455, the highest bid at the event held by Beverly Hills-based auctioneer Nate D. Sanders, according to the auction house.

The record number of gold statuettes which were sold out included those awarded for such classics as "How Green Was My Valley" and "Wuthering Heights", reported Xinhua.

The statuettes, each 34 cm tall and weighing 3.85 kg, were bestowed upon the moviemakers of winning films and works before 1950, when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences reached an agreement with winners which bars them and their heirs from selling the statuettes without first offering to sell them back to the Academy for $1.

"People continue to be drawn to the magic of the movies and were extremely enthusiastic bidding on the Oscars, which accounted for the high demand and sales prices," Nate D. Sanders said.

The Academy condemned the auction, but has not been able to stop the sale, according to a Los Angeles Times report which was filed three days before the move.

"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 spokesperson 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."

The statuettes which were put on the block also included one which fetched $301,973, the third highest total during the auction. This gold statuette was given to "Skippy" in 1931 in honour of the Academy Award for Best Picture.

The highest price for an Oscar statuette was recorded in 1999 when late pop icon Michael Jackson paid a whopping $1.54 million for the best picture statuette awarded in 1940 to David O. Selznick for "Gone with the Wind".