AN Oscar statuette could sell for a record €2.4m tomorrow when the Best Director Academy Award handed to Michael Curtiz for the 1942 classic Casablanca is due to be sold.
Casablanca, which celebrated its 70th anniversary in February, starred Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, and the film also won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Screenplay. Casablanca, set during World War Two, has been named by the American Film Institute as the third best film of the past 100 years.
Hungarian-born director Curtiz died in April 1962 aged 75. His Oscar was previously sold in 2003 by Christie’s for $231,500 to magician David Copperfield but bosses at Los Angeles auctioneers Nate D. Sanders are refusing to name the latest seller. At the start of the week, 21 bidders had already registered their interest in the Casablanca gold-plated statuette.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences loathes the auctioning of Oscars, believing it lessens the prestige of the prize. After an online sale in February of 15 statuettes raised $3m, the Academy issued a statement saying: "Oscars should be won, not purchased,” adding that it had no “legal means of stopping the commoditisation of these particular statuettes.”
The Academy can stop the sale of trophies awarded after 1950, because that year organisers made winners sign a legal agreement stating that should they wish to sell their statuettes, they must first offer them back to the Academy, for $1.
Last December, Nate D. Sanders sold Orson Welles' Oscar for his screenplay of Citizen Kane for $861,000, and in 1999 the best picture Oscar for Gone With the Wind was bought by singer Michael Jackson for a record $1.54 million.