Conventional, mawkish wisdom says you can’t put a price on an Oscar, even though it’s been demonstrated statistically that, yes, you can. But its immeasurable significance becomes a lot less intangible when you’re dead and someone can finally sell the thing—as was the case with Orson Welles’ Best Screenplay Oscar for Citizen Kane, which is now worth precisely $861,542. The statuette (the only award Welles ever claimed from the Academy) was just sold at auction, after years of bouncing around various owners—beginning with cinematographer Gary Graver, who claimed Welles had given it to him as payment. Unfortunately, not only was Graver unable to feed his family with Welles’ Oscar, he lost custody of it when Welles’ daughter sued. And she, in turn, was sued by the Academy for trying to auction it off in 2003, stemming from the Academy’s contract stipulating that it has the right to buy back Oscars from their recipients for $1. Fortunately for her, that mandatory agreement didn’t go into effect until 1950, so she was granted the right to sell it to a nonprofit, and its ownership only gets more muddled from there.
Anyway, point is, the Oscar has now finally moved from an anonymous seller to an undisclosed buyer—a buyer who was not, Deadline reports, David Copperfield, who coveted the statue because Welles himself was an amateur magician, and because Copperfield wanted to place it on his credenza so he could strut around it, arching his eyebrows and making dramatic flourishes with his hands. Whoever beat out Copperfield is now the proud owner of a historic statue that is, nevertheless, slightly tarnished, no doubt from where Orson Welles clasped it every day in his sweaty palms while thundering, “Do you know who I am???”
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