1947 Best Picture Oscar Scooped for about $500K at Auction
In the week that ended on Friday, one of Hollywoods prized assets, an Academy Award trophy, was auctioned off for nearly $500,000. Amazingly, it wasn’t the only Oscar statuette that flew off the shelf.
In close second was another Oscar gong that sold at above $200,00 in one of those rare showpiece events in Los Angeles.
Winner of the best picture in 1935, Mutiny on the Bounty is the other film which was sold at $240,000.
While it’s true that the aforementioned numbers are quite astronomical given their ancient status, they still don’t come close to the bidding race that happened with The Wizard of Oz. The 1939 American fantasy film’s gong fetched $1.2 million once it went on sale.
The revelations were brought to light by the Auction house Profiles in History which made the declaration just 4 days after the Hollywood memorabilia bidding war happened. The event was a massive success since more sales surpassed the $8 million mark.
Some of the other items on the collectors’ wishlist included the TIE fighter helmet. Drawing its origins from the original Star Wars concept, the helmet managed to pull a stunning $240,000 closing bid.
There was also a Phaser pistol with origins from the original Star Trek TV series which garnered an impressive $192,000; the prized hoverboard which was flown by Marty McFly in the all-time classic, Back to the Future II which retailed for $102,000; and 1 golden ticket from the movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory which fetched $48,000 in auction.
Many analysts had expected that The Mutiny on the Bounty would be the standout auction item, at least as per house projections. However, that wasn’t to be. In the end, the Gentleman’s Agreement statuette won the day. Still, the reasons remain unclear on why this happened.
Unbelievably, the buyers of both Oscar gongs and the Wizard of Oz have chosen to maintain anonymity.
Historically, Oscar statuette auctions are quite rare. That’s even without considering the fact that Oscar winners or their heirs from 1951 and onwards have been compelled to return the gongs back to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for a measly rate of $1.
This rule is apparently non-negotiable since the terms dictate that the Academy has an exclusive buy-back clause. In their defense, the Academy has made it apparent that they believe in Oscars being won, not bought.
While the two Oscar gongs sold in the past week have performed quite impressively in the market, they still pale in comparison to the amount that Michael Jackson dished out to own David O. Selznick’s magnum opus, Gone in the Wind, in 1999.
Hollywood awards since 1929 have been all about the prized, golden Oscar gong. In the numerous decades that have followed, the statue has undergone numerous facelifts.
Initially, the statuette was that of a knight holding a sword and standing atop a reel of film. Noticeably, there were also spokes representing the 5 branches of the Academy. In this list are writers, producers, directors, actors, and technicians.
A modification in 1928 by famed L.A. sculptor, George Stanley, saw the reel of film removed while the further enhancements were made on the knight figure.
Unbeknownst to many is the surprising fact that the Oscar award was named after Margaret Herrick, an Academy stalwart, was the first to give the gong it’s Oscar moniker. After seeing the award, she opined that it bore some similarities to her uncle Oscar.
The phrase quickly caught on after Sidney Skolsky made user of the name in a Hollywood piece describing Katherine Hepburn’s first monumental best actress feat. Later on, the Academy officially adopted the name in 1939. Before that, the award was called the Academy Award of Merit.
Standing at 13.5 inches tall and 8.5 pounds, more than 3,000 statuettes have been issued out to the very best of Hollywood influencers. The company in charge of casting the Oscar mold, R.S. Owens & Company, have been at it since 1982. Usually, they make the new statuettes at the start of every year in January.
In this year’s edition of the Oscars, the Polich Tallix Fine art Foundry has been given the mandate to hand-cast the gongs using bronze. Later on, they’ll apply a 24 karat gold finish before the gongs are ready for presentation to eventual winners.
Importantly, R.S. Owens & Company are still not out of the production picture completely. They’re expected to keep producing the Oscar trophies in the years to come.
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