Monday 22 January 2018

The €100,000 goodie bag for top nominees at the Oscars

This image released by Focus Features shows Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking in a scene from
This image released by Focus Features shows Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking in a scene from "The Theory of Everything." Redmayne was nominated for an Oscar Award for best actor for his role in the film. The 87th Annual Academy Awards will take place tonight (AP Photo/Focus Features, Liam Daniel)
A large Oscar statue on the red carpet in Los Angeles (Ian West/PA Wire)

Anita Singh

If either Eddie Redmayne or Benedict Cumberbatch walk away from the Oscars without the gold statuette for Best Actor, they will at least have a decent consolation prize: a goodie bag worth $125,000 (€109,000).

Each Academy Award nominee will receive gifts including a train ride through the Canadian Rockies, a $20,000 (€17,500) appointment with a Hollywood "dream interpreter" and a "customised candy and dessert buffet".

Luxury trips include the Rockies train journey at $14,500 (€12,700), a three-night stay in Tuscany ($1,500/€1,300) and a "glamping" trip to a destination of the recipient's choosing, which will cost $12,500 (€10,900). The celebrities will also receive a year's Audi A4 rental ($20,000/€17,500), a sweet and dessert buffet ($800/€700) and a delivery of "natural French Mediterranean sea salts" ($1,500/€1,300).

A silver necklace inscribed with the latitude and longitude of the Dolby Theatre, the venue for the awards, is a mere $150 (€130) - lower in value, in fact, than the $250 (€220) sex toy which has also been included.

And for those who decided they were carrying a fuller figure in their red carpet finery, there is a $4,000 (€3,500) "liposuction and fat reduction package" on offer.

Most off-beat of all is a $20,000 gift certificate for the services of Olessia Kantor, founder of a company called Enigma Life, who will meet each nominee "to discuss their 2015 horoscope, analyse dreams and teach them mind control technique".

As the trade magazine Variety put it: "Who needs a little gold statue when you can learn mind control?"

The riches are only on offer to those nominated in the most glamorous categories - those on the shortlist for production design or sound mixing will be disappointed.

Unfortunately, the recipients will also find something else landing on their doormats: a hefty tax bill.

The last time the value topped six figures, in 2005, it prompted the US Internal Revenue Service to begin an "outreach campaign" in Hollywood.

"These gift bags are not gifts for federal income tax purposes because the organisations and merchants who participate in giving the gift bags do not do so solely out of affection, respect, or similar impulses for the recipients of the gift bags," the IRS said at the time.

"In general, the person has received taxable income equal to the fair market value of the bag and its contents, and must report that amount on his or her federal income tax return." The-then IRS commissioner, Mark Everson, put it more clearly: "There's no special red carpet tax loophole for the stars."

The Academy voted to discontinue the practice of giving goodie bags in 2006, the same year that the IRS began showing an interest.

Now they are provided by an unaffiliated company, Distinctive Assets, which says it has "spearheaded the proliferation of award show swag". Lash Fary, founder of Distinctive Assets, said: "We aren't doing this as a charitable initiative. We do it because it makes sense for many brands to align their products with the stars. Brands benefit by associating with celebrities."

© Telegraph

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