Why is the Oscar statuette only worth $1?
The Oscars are the most prestigious awards in the American film industry, reflected in the inability to sell any of the trophies that are given out.
The Oscar statuettes are a vital element of the awards. These trophies, plated in 24-carat gold, have a manufacturing cost of $400.
There are many questions that have been asked about these awards. One of the most common is how much one is worth to purchase. Good luck achieving that.
In 1951, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) regulated its rules to prevent the sale of these awards. If a winner would like to sell his Oscar, they must offer it to the Academy, which will pay them one dollar for the statuette.
The Academy’s rule that regulates the sale of a statue
Article 10 was drafted so that the winners are the only ones who can own the statuettes, not just those who can afford to pay for them. All nominees sign a contract prohibiting them from selling their award in the event that they are winners. This rule was ratified in 2015 by a Los Angeles judge.
The Academy’s rules specify in Article 10 that, “Academy Award winners have no rights whatsoever in the Academy copyright or goodwill in the Oscar statuette or in its trademark and service mark registrations. Award winners must comply with these rules and regulations. 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.″
Previously it had a symbolic value of $10, but it was agreed to lower it to $1. In addition, the aforementioned article also refers to the heirs of the winners, who are prohibited from selling the statuettes.
Between 150 and 200 statuettes have been sold
Despite these strict rules, it is estimated that between 150 and 200 statuettes have been sold, Most of them awarded prior to 1951, the year in which the amendment to the statute came into force. This has created a legal loophole for the sale of statuettes if they were awarded before that date.
In fact, a number of public figures have bought them. Michael Jackson paid $1.5 million in 1999 for the statuette for Best Picture for ‘Gone with the Wind’ (1939). Steven Spielberg bought two awards, Clark Gable’s for ‘It Happened One Night’ (1934) and Bette Davis’ for ‘Jezebel’ (1938), both for just under $1.5 million. Both were donated to the Academy.
Magician David Copperfield bought for $232,000 the statuette that Michael Curtiz had won for Best Director for ‘Casablanca’ (1944). Orson Welles’ family sold the award for best screenplay for ‘Citizen Kane’ (1942) for close to $800,000. More recently, Kevin Spacey bought in 2001 the award won by George Stoll to the Best Original Score for ‘Anchors Aweigh’ (1945) for $150,000 and made it available to the Academy.