Academy Sues Winner's Heirs for Selling His Oscar

The Academy is not pleased with auction
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2014 9:30 AM CDT
Academy Sues Winner's Heirs for Selling His Oscar
This undated photo released by Briarbrook Auctions shows an Academy Award Oscar statue awarded for color art direction in 1942 to Joseph C. Wright for his work on “My Gal Sal.”   (AP Photo/Briarbrook Auctions)

Once you win an Oscar, that golden statuette is yours to do with as you please ... right? Wrong. One of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' bylaws states that before a member can sell an Oscar, they must first offer it to the Academy for $10. And the same goes for anyone who inherits an Oscar ... which is why the Academy is now suing Joseph Wright's heirs. Wright won the award for color and art direction on My Gal Sal in 1942 and died in 1985, and on June 24 his heirs allegedly sold the statuette at auction for $79,200.

The Academy is suing the family, the buyers, and the auction house, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The Academy wants $79,200, plus punitive damages, plus the right to purchase the Oscar for $10. Though Oscar winners didn't start signing contracts agreeing to give the Academy first rights to the statuettes until 1951, the lawsuit explains that as a member, Wright was bound to the bylaws even back in 1942. And, as Deadline reports, the Academy says it warned Rhode Island-based Briarbrook Auction Services via letters and phone calls before the sale. (More Academy Awards stories.)

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