The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences wants to get one thing straight: Oscar is not for sale.
Upset over the recent sale of several of the statuettes, AMPAS brought out the big guns to convince Christie’s to withdraw a duplicate of Judy Garland’s statuette for best juvenile of 1940 from a skedded auction last Saturday.
According to an AMPAS spokesman, the org filed court papers barring the auction, but then convinced Christie’s officials to pull the item without resorting to litigation. “The Academy simply explained its legal position to Christie’s and they agreed not to sell it,” Academy lawyer David Quinto said.
Garland’s former husband Sid Luft, who put the statuette up for sale, could not be reached.
One industry wag, however, said he couldn’t blame Luft for cashing in on the award. Just last week, Vivien Leigh’s best actress Oscar for “Gone With the Wind” sold for a record $ 563,000.
Luft had consigned his statuette to auctioneer Christie’s, despite a 1958 agreement signed by Garland promising to offer the Oscar back to the Academy for $ 10 before otherwise disposing of it. Quinto said only winners of statuettes after 1950 were required to sign such agreements.
Garland won a special Oscar in 1940; the Academy issued a duplicate in 1958 after it was told the original was lost. The resale agreement was a condition for the replacement and was intended to bind Garland’s heirs.
The Academy said it offered the $ 10 to Luft, but he refused to recognize its rights. Quinto said a court order barring Luft from selling it was still outstanding.
“The Oscar was never intended to be an article of commerce,” Quinto said. “The Academy feels Oscar’s value would be cheapened and diluted. You don’t buy other people’s Nobel Prizes.”