New York auction house Sotheby’s has announced plans to auction the Academy Award that Orson Welles won for co-authoring the screenplay to Citizen Kane. Although it is a perennial topper of critics “Best” lists, Citizen Kane only won one of the nine Oscar statues it was nominated for in 1941. It is also the only Academy Award Welles would ever win over the course of his career.
The Oscar statue will go under the gavel on December 11, with Sotheby’s expecting it to be sold for anywhere between $800,00.00 and $1.2 million.
Long thought lost, Welles’s Oscar was revealed to be in the possession of cinematographer Gary Graver, who stated that the director had given him the statue as payment for working on Welles’s unfinished 1974 film The Other Side Of The Wind. Graver tried to auction the Oscar through Sotheby’s, but was sued by Welles’ daughter Beatrice Welles, who was eventually awarded ownership of the Academy Award by a California court.
Beatrice Welles put the Oscar up for auction herself, but was sued by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences. The Academy had enacted a stipulation that the Oscar statues could not be resold without first offering to sell them back to the Academy for the nominal sum of $1.00. However, a California court ruled that as this rule was enacted in 1950, the Citizen Kane Oscar was not covered by the policy. The auction went ahead in 2003, with the Oscar being acquired by the Dax Foundation, who has decided to resale the statue and use the proceeds to help fund the non-profit organization’s charitable works.
Several older Oscars have been sold at auction and by private dealers for sums in the six-figure range. The Best Picture Oscar for Gone With The Wind (1939) fetched $1.5 million at auction while its star Vivien Leigh’s Best Actress statue went 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.
Previously: Academy Attempts To Block Sale Of Oscar