Curtiz’s CASABLANCA Oscar Goes For $2 Million At Auction

The Academy Award Oscar statuette that Michael Curtiz received for directing the 1943 classic Casablanca sold at auction this evening for $2,056,120.00. This is short of the estimated $2.5 million the gold-plated statue was expected to go for. This morning the bidding was only around $700,000.

Casablanca, considered one of the greatest motion pictures ever made, won three Academy Awards and this win for Curtiz would be the only one of the director’s career.

Curtiz’s Academy Award is the latest in string of statues that have gone under the hammer in recent months. Orson Welles’s Oscar for Citizen Kane went for $861,542 in December. This past February an additional 18 statuettes were auctioned, bringing in a total of over $3 million.

In 1950, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences mandated that all Oscar statues being awarded going forward could not be sold be the award winner or their heirs without first offering to sell them back to the Academy for the nominal sum of $1.00. The rule doesn’t apply to statuettes awarded pre-1950 and the last several years have seen the Best Picture Oscar for Gone With The Wind (1939) fetching $1.5 million at auction while its star Vivien Leigh’s Best Actress statue going for $550,000.00. Director Steven Spielberg has shelled out six-figure prices for pre-1950 Oscar statues awarded to Clark Gable and Bette Davis in order to donate them back to the Academy in perpetuity.

The auction was conducted by Nate D Sanders. The images below (click on each for a much larger version) are from their online catalog as is the following product description –

Oscar statue awarded to Michael Curtiz for Best Direction of the 1943 film “Casablanca,” one of the most respected films made during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Like other films considered the greatest of all time, “Casablanca” has consistently grown in acclaim over the years, although it was recognized in its day with three Academy Awards in March 1944 including Best Picture and this Oscar for Best Director. It’s now considered by the American Film Institute to be the second best film of all time, just behind “Citizen Kane.” Produced by Warner Brothers, the film is set in Casablanca, Morocco in 1941. Humphrey Bogart stars as the owner of Rick’s nightclub, with Ingrid Bergman as his ex-lover and Paul Henreid as her Czech Resistance leader husband. Its blend of wartime political intrigue, romance and humor culminates in one of the most moving and quoted final scenes in cinematic history: “Here’s looking at you, kid.” As Rick Blaine, Bogart’s decision to honor duty above all else supports the belief of “Casablanca” as an allegory of the United States’ entry into WWII. Many of Curtiz’s films received Oscar nominations in various categories throughout his career, but “Casablanca” is his singular win. The plaque affixed to the front of the base is engraved: “Academy First Award / To / Michael Curtiz / For The Direction of / ‘Casablanca'”. The plaque upon the opposite side reads: “Academy Of / Motion Picture / Arts And Sciences / First Award / 1943”. Gold-plated statue of “Oscar” standing on a film reel measures 10.25″ in height atop a round black Belgian marble base to an overall height of 11.75″. Base measures 5.5″ in diameter. Statue weighs 6 lbs. 13 oz. Light speckling to finish, else near fine.

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About Rich Drees 7078 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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