Oscar’s sheen got a little brighter Wednesday when Vivien Leigh’s coveted best actress statuette for “Gone With the Wind” fetched a record $ 563,500 at Sotheby’s sale of movie memorabilia.
The Gotham-based auction house refused to say who bought the 12-inch award but acknowledged that the buyer paid more than five times the auction estimate price of $ 100,000.
The price shattered the record price for an Oscar, which was set last June when Joan Crawford’s 1945 prize for “Mildred Pierce” brought $ 68,500 at Christie’s auction house.
Leigh won the 1939 award for playing Scarlett O’Hara in the famed Civil War pic, beating out Bette Davis (“Dark Victory”), Greta Garbo (“Ninotchka”), Greer Garson (“Goodbye, Mr. Chips”) and Irene Dunne (“Love Affair”).
Much of the Sotheby’s sale consisted of items from Leigh’s estate. She died in 1967.
A rep for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences said the org usually refuses comment on the sales of Oscars because it deplores them.
In a prepared statement, the Oscar-givers said: “The Academy regrets the traffic in Oscars. The statuettes are symbols of recognition by one’s peers of excellence in filmmaking. That recognition belongs only to the winner and always will belong to the winner. The Academy remains concerned and will consider all legal options open to it with regard to each sale, but does not choose to discuss those options.”
Sotheby’s officials said they were surprised and delighted with the statuette’s record price.
In another sale, Orson Welles’ original typescript for “Citizen Kane” was bought by Forbes Inc. for $ 57,500.