Acad nixes auction of Oscar-night seat

For a short while last week, auction Web site Taketoauction.com had the hottest ticket in town — a seat to this year’s Academy Awards, available to any bidder online and offered by what is presumed to be an enterprising Academy member.

But the auction landed the company in Oscar’s hot seat until the offer was withdrawn March 8.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences — ever vigilant against outsiders breaching its golden night and extra wary in the wake of recent kidnapping threats against thesp and scheduled presenter Russell Crowe — was in a righteous fury until the offer was withdrawn.

“The Academy will use every legal avenue open to prevent the unauthorized sale or distribution of tickets to its annual Academy Awards presentation,” said executive director Bruce Davis in a statement issued March 9. “The awards are a private party, and the only audience we want are invited guests, and we want these guests to feel as safe as humanly possible from those who might want to disrupt the proceedings.”

The Florida-based auction site posted the ticket package, dubbed “The Ultimate Hollywood Experience,” on March 5. In addition to the date with Oscar, it included a four-night stay at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel and a $5,000 shopping spree on Rodeo Drive.

On March 7, the Academy filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeking for the offer to be removed.

A Taketoauction spokesman told Daily Variety that the company did not learn of the suit or the implications of the site’s auction until that night. “We are sensitive to (the Academy’s) concerns and agree with them 100%,” said a representative.

When the package was pulled March 8, the bid was up to $11,400, a price considered low according to the auction site’s spokesman.

Taketoauction said that it received the package through a reputable vendor and that company officials didn’t know who the soliciting Academy member was. The Academy plans to continue to investigate the auction package’s source, said Davis.

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