Academy Awards: Why the Oscar statuette is only worth $1

National News

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 09: In this handout photo provided by A.M.P.A.S. Oscars statuettes are on display backstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Petit – Handout/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) – As far as the Academy Awards are concerned, the Oscar statuette is worth roughly the same as a small bag of Funyuns.

The 93rd Academy Awards are scheduled to take place on April 25, and although the 2021 ceremony will look a bit different than in previous years, one thing that hasn’t changed much is the Oscar statuette itself. Cast in bronze and finished with gold plating, the award is among the most coveted in the film industry — and the Academy values it at just $1.

Of course, the Oscar itself is much more costly to produce. But in the interest in protecting each statuette as an award of merit — rather than a collector’s item to be bought and sold — the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) requires that each winner agree to strict rules. And one such rule prohibits the recipients from selling or disposing of the statuette without first offering it back to the Academy for $1.

The Academy first introduced an early form of this provision in 1951, though they initially set their own buyback price at $10. The move was designed to protect each statuette from diminishing in value for future recipients, or being traded or hoarded by fans or film buffs.

But that doesn’t mean a few people haven’t tried selling an Oscar that had been handed down from a family member. In 2014, an Oscar won by art director Joseph Wright, for the 1942 film “My Gal Sal,” was consigned to an auction house by his nephew Joseph Tutalo, according to an article published by The Hollywood Reporter in 2015. The Academy sued both Tutalo and the auction house, and a judge eventually ruled in favor of the Academy, as Wright had continued to be a member of the Academy through 1951, and was therefore bound by the provision along with his nephew.

At the time, Dawn Hudson, the CEO of AMPAS, reiterated that the Academy feels the “award [is] diminished by distribution… through commercial efforts rather than in recognition of creative effort,” she said in a statement shared by The Hollywood Reporter.

A more successful case involved an Oscar won by Orson Welles in 1941 for “Citizen Kane.” In that instance, however, Welles’ heir was successful in obtaining the rights to sell his statuette after arguing that Welles never agreed to the provisions. The award eventually sold for $861,542 in 2011, Reuters reported at the time.

That said, the actual scrap value of an Oscar statuette had once been estimated by Money.com to be about $650, but that figure doesn’t take into account the years of work, dedication, or sentimental value attached to each statuette.

In either case, it’s probably worth well more than a bag of Funyuns.

The 93rd Academy Awards airs April 25 at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.

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