Legal fight gives Academy right to reclaim auctioned Oscar

Academy to reclaim auctioned Oscar for $10 following legal fight

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

An agreement approved by a judge will allow the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to pay $10 to reclaim a 1940s-era Oscar statuette that was auctioned last year without its permission.

The amount is a fraction of the $79,200 paid by a Los Angeles-based auction house for Joseph Wright's Academy Award for color art direction of the 1942 film "My Gal Sal."

Superior Court Judge Gail Ruderman Feuer approved an agreement between the academy and auction house Nate D. Sanders on Tuesday after more than a year of litigation. The academy sued a Rhode Island auction firm that sold the Wright Oscar to Nate D. Sanders in June 2014, arguing its bylaws prevented the sale.

The academy has had a rule since 1951 that Oscar winners and their heirs cannot sell statuettes without first offering it to the organization for $10. The settlement agreement states Nate D. Sanders, which has previously sold Oscar statuettes, was aware of the requirement.

Brandon Tesser, an attorney for the auction firm, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

"The 'Oscar' is perhaps the world's most distinctive and prestigious award for achievement in the arts," the academy's lawyer, Gary E. Gans, wrote in a statement. "This case established that the academy can maintain the dignity and value of such an award by keeping it from becoming a commodity."

Wright, a two-time Oscar-winner, died in 1985.

"My Gal Sal," a musical starring Rita Hayworth, was nominated for two Academy Awards.