A few of the world’s truly great honors and awards are accompanied by truly great checks. The Nobel Prize, for one, comes with something close to a million dollars. The Oscars, though, which are handed out Sunday, are merely coated in gold.
Since the mid-20th century, winners can only sell them to the Motion Picture Academy, for one buck. Yet no calculable price can be set on the publicity, job prospects, and the phrase “Oscar winner” that’s ever after attached to the awardees’ names.
Economist Jana Gallus, at the UCLA Anderson School, works to figure out what our cherished but intrinsically valueless little baubles are really worth to the human spirit.