Thursday, December 15, 2011


Good news to those film buffs who have $600,000 - $1M lying around! Orson Welles' 1942 Oscar for Best Screenplay, Citizen Kane, is coming to an auction house near you (Nate D. Sanders in Los Angeles, to be exact).

Citizen Kane, often regarded as the 'best film ever made' (a ridiculous title to hand out, if you ask me), was Welles' first feature film. In addition to writing the screenplay, he directed, and starred in the film. Although  in 1942 it was nominated in nine different categories, Welles only went home with one golden trophy.

The trophy comes not only with its film-historical significance, but also with a pretty good story. In his lifetime, Orson Welles lost the Oscar and never recovered it. Only posthumously did it resurface in the hands of Welles' cinematographer, who claimed having received it as a form of payment and was presently putting it up for auction. Welles' daughter, Beatrice, quickly sued the cinematographer, claiming right to ownership of her father's trophy. Beatrice successfully won the statue, but when she herself tried to put it up for auction, she was sued by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Although the Academy lost the suit, they implemented a regulation that all Oscars awarded after 1950 could not be auctioned or sold to anyone other than the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, for more than $1. Beatrice continued with the auctioning of the Oscar and sold it to a non profit organization.

Welles' Oscar continued to be tossed from hand-to-hand and on December 20th, yet another pass will be made. With the market for Hollywood memorabilia in high demand (the film industry is contra-cyclical to the economy, made the sales of its memorabilia are too?), the owner (choosing to remain nameless) expects a price tag of $600,000 to $1M. In June, Marilyn Monroe's white dress from The Seven Year Itch was sold for $4.6M and earlier this year, Michael Jackson's famed Thriller jacket sold for $1.8M. With these numbers as guides, I imagine the statue will garner well beyond the expectations, especially with potential buyers flying in from China, Japan, and the Middle East.

Although it is now tarnished with age, the statue is a valuable piece of Hollywood history and I'll be curious to learn who its next owner will be.

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