Academy nixes Oscar auction

Christie's has withdrawn a 1941 Oscar won by Orson Welles for co-writing "Citizen Kane" from its entertainment memorabilia auction on Friday. The statuette, valued at $300,000 to $400,000, was the centerpiece of the event, to be held in New York.

The action was taken after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences claimed the right to buy back the statue for $1. The rest of the sale will proceed as planned, the New York Times reports.

Bruce Davis, executive director of the academy, said Christie's had assured him, by letter, that it would not sell the Oscar until legal issues were resolved. Since 1950, all Oscar winners have had to agree to let the academy purchase the trophy for a nominal fee, should it ever be put up for sale.

Welles' Oscar was being sold by Beatrice Welles, the youngest of his three daughters. For many years, it was considered lost and, in 1988, she requested a duplicate. The original surfaced six years later in the collection of cinematographer Gary Graver, who said Welles had given it to him in lieu of cash. Beatrice Welles successfully filed suit against him when, financially strapped, he tried to auction it off.

Elaine Dutka

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