Citizen Kane Oscar goes under the hammer

Up to $1.2m estimated for Welles' only statuette

Sotheby's New York has announced that on 11 December it will auction the 1942 best screenplay Oscar awarded to Orson Welles and Herman J Mankiewicz for Citizen Kane.

Despite being nominated for three honours - best screenplay, director and actor in a leading role - Kane attracted just the one statuette, which would remain Welles' lifelong tally. Famously, the film was not put forward for best picture, that particular crown going to How Green Was My Valley.

The Oscar later went missing*, "resurfaced in 1994 and, after a lengthy legal battle, was returned to the Orson Welles Estate", according to the official press release.

In 2003, the trophy was acquired by the Dax Foundation, a "Los Angeles-based, non-profit, charitable foundation which is selling the Oscar and using all of the proceeds to help fund the organisation's charitable initiatives and worldwide humanitarian efforts".

Sotheby's estimates the Oscar at $800,000-$1.2m. The director of the auction house's Collectibles Department, Leila Dunbar, said: "Citizen Kane is Welles at genius level. Welles was fearless in writing and presenting the story of a powerful mogul such as William Randolph Hearst despite the consequences, and the movie broke new ground in its innovative photography, editing, and sound. Citizen Kane is probably the world's most famous film and for the past six decades has and continues to influence generations of filmmakers." ®

Bootnote

*According to the Beeb, Welles gave the Oscar to an LA filmaker as payment for some work. It reappeared at a 1994 Sotheby's auction, prompting Welles' daughter Beatrice to successfully reclaim it via legal action.

She then decided to sell it herself, at which point the academy tried in vain to sue her as part of its "longstanding goal of keeping Oscars out of commercial markets", viz: its requirement since 1950 that holders offer it "the first right of refusal to buy back an Oscar for $1".

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