Entertainment & Arts

Film academy sues over Oscar auction

Oscar statuettes Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The sale of Oscar statuettes is rare but the Academy always attempts to stop it when it does happen

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is suing the family of art director Joseph Wright over the sale of his Oscar for 1942's My Gal Sal.

Wright died in 1985 and his heirs sold his statuette for $79,200 (£46,200) to unknown buyers via Briarbrook Auctions last month.

However the Academy brought in rules in 1951 giving it the first right to buy any award put up for sale for $1 (58p).

The Academy wants damages of more than $79,200 as well as punitive damages.

The legal case put forward by the Academy this week states the first-right purchase also applies to heirs of Oscar winners.

Its regulations also require winners to sign a contract of agreement.

The defendants are Wright's heirs, Briarbrook and the unknown buyers.

Wuthering Heights

The sale of an Oscar statuette is rare but, when it does happen, the Academy is rigorous in its pursuit of those responsible in order to preserve the integrity of the award.

However, the Academy is not always successful in stopping Oscar sales.

In 2012, a collection of 15 statues sold for more than $3m (£1.8m) at an auction in Los Angeles.

The sale included Oscars for the films Wuthering Heights and Citizen Kane.

Wright won two Oscars for art direction, his second was for This Above All, also from 1942.

He was nominated for 10 more awards over the course of his career, which saw him work on 86 films between 1923 and 1969.

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