Sunday, February 2, 2014

Travels of Orson Welles Academy Award

Orson Welles 8x10 Original Prints
Hide and Go Oscar
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences began handing out their Oscars in 1928. In 1942 Welles won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Citizen Kane, an award shared with co-writer, Herman J. Mankiewicz. 
  • This page offers a timeline of the journey of Welles' Oscar, the most that we know
  • Also there are a couple of videos including a Citizen Kane documentary that is very good
In 1950, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences passed a rule prohibiting Academy Award winners or their heirs from selling a statue without first offering it back to the Academy for a price of $1.

"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."

-- excerpted from the Academy Rules and Regulations

There are a lot of pre-1950 Oscars out there that have been sold and this includes Orson Welles' 1942 Academy Award.

The value of one of these awards has direct correlation to the film and personality connected with it. When you're talking about Orson Welles and Citizen Kane you're talking about legend.

The journey of Mr. Welles' Oscar, the statuette itself, has been interesting. The award weighs 7 pounds, 5 ounces and comes to a total height of 12" tall. Welles won the award when he was 25 years old.

In 1971, he received a second Honorary Oscar for his lifetime achievement.

At some point the actor/director said he'd lost the Citizen Kane Oscar.  This is what his family believed. "...For years it had gone missing and the Academy issued a replacement to Beatrice Welles, Orson's youngest daughter and sole heir." -- Nate D. Sanders Auctions

Citizen Kane, Orson Welles Oscar Movie Poster Display

In 1994 cinematographer, Gary Graver, tried to sell it. He claimed that Welles had given him the award as a gift. 

He talks about the experience in his book, Making Movies with Orson Welles.

"Completely out of the blue, Orson handed me the Oscar.

'Here,' he said. 'Keep this Gary. You take it. I want you to have it.'
I was of course absolutely stunned. This was the Oscar for Citizen Kane, the greatest film ever made! I told him I couldn't possibly take it but Orson wouldn't hear of it.

'No, no,' he said. 'I want you to have it.'

"And that was that. What a gift! Can you imagine? And I ultimately owned that statuette for about twenty years. Then in 1994 one of Orson's daughters learned that the Oscar was in my possession, so she filed a suit in California Supreme Court. 

"...The assertion her lawyers made was that the Oscar was not actually a gift but something Orson had handed me for safekeeping."

It was also said that the Oscar may have been give as a form of payment. It was displayed at the 75th Academy Awards in 2003.

Orson Welles was interviewed about Citizen Kane, William Randolph Hearst and more.

His daughter Beatrice sued and won custody of the statuette.  Then the Academy sued her when she tried to auction it in 2003. 

After a legal battle, she won the right to dispense of the Oscar and sold it to a nonprofit that tried unsuccessfully to sell it auction. She sold it to a California nonprofit called the Dax Foundation, who in turn tried unsuccessfully to auction it in 2007.

Sotheby’s also was unsuccessful when it tried to auction the award in 2007 but failed to as it failed to meet the reserve price.

Finally in December 2011 the Oscar Orson Welles won for the screenplay of Citizen Kane sold at auction for $861,542 to an undisclosed bidder, Nate D. Sanders Auctions reported.

Here is the description the Oscar had before it sold:

James Cameron
Holds Two Academy Awards
Oscars Titanic Original
35Mm Transparency
"Two engraved plaques are placed on opposite sides of the Belgian marble pedestal. One reads, 'Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences / First Award / 1941.' The other reads, 'Academy First Award To Orson Welles / For Writing / Original Screenplay of Citizen Kane.'

"The figure and film reel, composed of gold-plated britannium measuring 10.5" tall, top the pedestal, bringing the total height to 12". The pedestal's diameter measures 5.25". The award weighs 7 pounds, 5 ounces.

"Some tarnishing to statue, primarily to the leg area of the figure. The green felt backing under the pedestal is worn away around the edge. Overall in very good condition."

David Copperfield, who was outbid in the auction, said he admires Welles not only for his cinematic successes, but because he, too, was a magician. Welles hosted Copperfield's first television special.

Copperfield told the auction house that he wanted the Oscar because "Orson Welles was not only a magician of the cinema but also a performing magician himself." The magician also has history with Welles, The filmmaker hosted Copperfield's first TV special, and Copperfield already owns many props from Citizen Kane. (Hollywood Reporter)

Earlier in 2011, an Oscar won by by Nathan Levinson for best sound recording for the 1942 film Yankee Doodle Dandy was sold in Texas for $89,625. 

The auction house said only a handful of Academy Awards have sold for nearly a million dollars. Michael Jackson famously paid $1.54 million in 1999 for the best picture Oscar awarded to David O. Selznick for Gone With The Wind.

Other awards can be found on auction regularly. Katharine Hepburn's Kennedy Center Honors ribbons and the BAFTA she earned for her performance in On Golden Pond were recently won at auction.

Among the awards available in a February 2014 auction at Nate B. Sanders Auctions is a Presidential Medal of Freedom With Distinction Awarded to Robert McNamara.

There are some fine documentaries about Citizen Kane.

There is some confusion about other nationally known industry awards such as the Emmy given by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. We've seen them block some sales of Emmys; Estelle Getty's Emmy Award was being sold on eBay in 2009. The sale of the Emmy was halted. But some Emmy sales have proceeded. 

Rita Hayworth has her hair dyed and cut 8x10" Photo

Related Pages of Interest:

Citizen Kane (Two-Disc Special Edition) See what all the fuss is about -- or enjoy it all over again. You can stream it onto your TV, computer, tablet, etc.

Orson Welles and the Oscars for Citizen Kane, Not so Terrific

Buying, Selling, Auctioning off Academy Awards  The Oscar Herman J. Mankiewicz won for co-writing Citizen Kane with Welles was auctioned off in 2012.

Collecting, Auctioning Entertainment Memorabilia

Nate B Sanders Auction House Orson Welles Oscar Consignment

Some information, not cited above from CNN, Reuters, CBS News, New York Daily News

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