James Cagney’s Yankee Doodle Dandy Oscar statuette has turned out to be a bit of a Yankee Doodle dud.
The Academy Award that the actor won for his 1942 performance of showman George M. Cohan was expected to fetch at least its minimum asking price of $800,000 when it was placed on the auction block last Friday at Nate D Sanders in Los Angeles. Instead, it garnered no bids for the private collector who had placed the Oscar up for sale, surprising the auction house which had anticipated it selling for over $1 million.
As we’ve noted before, it is rare for an Academy Award statue to go up for auction. Starting in 1951, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences instituted a rule for the Academy Awards that any winner, or their heirs, who wanted to sell their Oscars first had to offer them to the Academy for the nominal price of $1. Recent pre-1951 Oscar sales include 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 went for $550,000.00. In 2012, Michael Curtiz’s Oscar for directing Casablanca sold for $2 million.
Although nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award three times, Cagney’s work in Yankee Doodle Dandy was the only one to win him the Oscar gold.