How much is an Academy Award really worth?

Well, turns out not much if you’ve received one after 1950.

In fact, according to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences—an Oscar is worth exactly: $1
Since 1950, Oscar winners have been required to sign a contract agreeing they’ll sell the Oscar back to the Academy for a buck if they ever want to sell it—statuettes awarded before 1950 are fair game. But why?
The Academy is tremendously protective of the Oscar’s singular stature and has fought tirelessly to keep the award from becoming a profitable commodity, and to rid the world of knock-offs.

The Margin

According to CBS Moneywatch, one gold-plated, 8.5 pound pewter Oscar statuette costs about $400 to produce. Apparently, about 75 post-1950’s Oscars have been sold on the grey market; for well more than a buck. While prices are lower for post-1950 Oscars because they can’t be resold again as easily, the going price still fetches as much as $1.5 million and rarely brings in less than $60,000. It’s no surprise that the top prices paid for Oscars are all pre-1950:
• Best Picture – Gone With the Wind – Sold in 1999 for: $2,125,743
• Vivian Leigh, Best Actress, Gone With the Wind – Sold in 1993 for: $894, 543
• Clark Gable, Best Actor, It Happened One Night – Sold in 1996 for: $888,963
• Orson Welles, Best Screenplay, Citizen Kane – Sold in 2011 for: $879,371
• Bette Davis, Best Actress, Jezebel – Sold in 2001 for: $749,324


Try to unload an Oscar on Ebay or attempt to violate the Academy’s copyrights and David Quinto will come after you. Quinto, who works for his own law firm in Los Angeles, handles the day-to-day Oscar enforcement and treats the Academy like any other client.
According to a NY Times article published a few years ago about Quinto,

“Copyright and trademark enforcement make up most of Mr. Quinto’s Academy-related tasks, as he, almost daily, dispatches letters to companies in apparent violation. Some of the more memorable culprits: shops peddling pornographic Oscar statuettes; a Brazilian cigarette maker brandishing the Oscar on its packaging; and a winemaker that used the Oscar in its advertisements.”


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