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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Sabrina Barr

Oscars 2020: How much is the golden statuette worth?

In the film industry, an Academy Award is widely-regarded as one of the most prestigious accolades one can receive.

Those who win big at the star-studded event are frequently overcome with emotion, such as Halle Berry, whose 2002 acceptance speech for her historic Best Actress win is remembered as one of the most impassioned to ever be delivered on stage.

Ever since 2010, it has become tradition following the awards ceremony for the evening’s winners to take their statuettes to be engraved with their names.

One would assume that the golden figurines, etched with the names of some of the most high-profile individuals in Hollywood, would be worth a great deal.

However, the value of an Oscar is actually far lower than one may assume.

How much does it cost to make an Oscar and how much is it worth?

In a 2017 video produced by Coinage, Time Inc.’s personal finance company, it states the cost of making an Oscar statuette is around $400 (£307).

However, this isn’t actually how much the golden figure is worth.

In 2015, a Los Angeles judge ruled that an Oscar statuette won in 1942 by Joseph C Wright for Best Art Direction in the Rita Hayworth musical My Gal Sal – which was previously sold for $79,200 (£61,180) – could be reclaimed by the Academy for $10 (£7.72).

From 1951 up until a few years ago, a rule stipulated that those who win Oscars and their heirs cannot sell their golden figurines without first offering them to the Academy for $10.

However, a few years ago the regulation changed, so those in possession of an Oscar who wish to sell it must first offer it back to the Academy for $1 (77p). 

“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,” it states on the Oscars website.

“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.”

The statement adds that this rule also applies to “the heirs and assigns of Academy Award winners who may acquire a statuette by gift or bequest”, and that miniature statuettes are subject to the same ruling as standard-sized statuettes.

How much have Oscars been sold for in the past?

Despite the strict rules that have been put in place to prevent golden Oscars for being sold for stratospheric sums, this hasn’t prevented some statuettes from being auctioned in the past.

In 1999, Michael Jackson purchased the Best Picture award won by producer David O Selznick for the 1939 romance Gone With the Wind for $1.54m (£1.19m), Vanity Fairstates.

Meanwhile, the Best Actress award Vivien Leigh won for her performance in the film was sold in 1993 for more than $500,000 (£386, 382).

Three years later, the Best Actor award received by Clarke Gable for the 1934 film It Happened One Night was bought for more than $600,000 (£463,659).

Ever since the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929, more than 3,000 Oscar statuettes have been presented to winners.

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