How much does an Oscars trophy cost and what is it made of?
A total of 24 Oscars will be handed out to the winners of this year’s Academy Awards. But what are the statuettes actually made of? Are they solid gold?
Later this evening 24 lucky winners will be taking home a small but hefty statuette - an Oscar, from the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood. Since the first edition of the Oscars in 1929, 3,140 statuettes have been handed out to the best actors, actresses, directors, cinematographers, costume designers, composers… the stars of the silver screen during the past year.
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Original Oscars statuette designed in 1927
The original Oscar statuette was designed in 1927 and sculpted the following year. The figure was loosely based on Mexican filmmaker and actor Emilio Fernández, who was coaxed into posing for sketches for the original design by MGM art director Cedric Gibbons - the draft sketches were then handed to a young Los Angeles sculptor, George Stanley to produce the classic figurine. The Oscar statuette depicts a knight gripping a sword with both hands, stood on a circular base, which is decorated as a spool of film.
Traditionally, the Oscar statuettes were cast in solid bronze then plated in 24-karat gold. The process has changed with the latest advances in technology. New York-based fine art foundry, Polich Tallix have been contracted to produces the Oscars since 2016. A digital Oscar is created using a 3D-printer then the figure cast in wax. Once cooled, each wax statuette is coated in a ceramic shell, left a couple of weeks to cure before being fired at 1,600°F. During that process, the wax melts away to leave a hollow, Oscar-shaped form. From there, they are cast in liquid bronze, cooled, sanded and polished. The statuettes are then transported across town to Brooklyn where each one is electroplated in 24-karat gold by specialist firm, Epner Technology Inc. Each Oscar is 13.5 inches tall and weighs 8.5 pounds. The whole process from start to finish takes around three months.
Extra Oscars made just in case
While just 24 Oscars are presented every year, a total batch of 50 are produced before the event in case more or needed if there is a tie or if there are multiple winners in any of the categories. The statuettes have been produced at
Oscars have occasionally come up at auction but what is their real worth? These days, much less than you might think as they cannot be sold on the open market. In July 2015, a California judge banned Oscar winners or their heirs from putting their statuettes up for sale, stating that they “were never intended to be treated as an article of trade”.
The Academy states: “Award winners shall not sell or otherwise dispose of the Oscar statuette, nor permit it to be sold or disposed of by operation of law, without first offering to sell it to the Academy for the sum of $1.00. This provision shall apply also to the heirs and assigns of Academy Award winners who may acquire a statuette by gift or bequest”. So while each statuette costs approximately $400 to produce, their face value is just a dollar.