Up For Sale: Orson Welles' Oscar

Melissa Block tells us about the impending sale of the Oscar statuette won by Orson Welles for writing Citizen Kane.

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A piece of silver screen history is up for sale.


ORSON WELLES: (as Charles Foster Kane) If I hadn't been very rich, I might have been a really great man.

BLOCK: That's Orson Welles playing Charles Foster Kane in "Citizen Kane," now considered among the best movies of all time. But after its release back in 1941, "Citizen Kane" received just one Academy Award. That Oscar went to Welles and Herman Mankiewicz for best screenplay, and Welles' statuette is now on the auction block. This wasn't just the only Oscar that "Citizen Kane" won, it's the only Oscar that Orson Welles ever won. And then he misplaced it.

LAURA YNTEMA: Yeah. It was lost for decades, and it wasn't until, you know, after Orson Welles' death that it was actually recovered by the family.

BLOCK: Laura Yntema is the auction manager at Nate D. Sanders Auctions. She can't tell us who is selling the Oscar, but Orson Welles' daughter Beatrice won a court case a few years ago giving her the right to sell it. The Academy frowns on this sort of thing.

YNTEMA: Before 1950, those Oscars are the only ones that can be sold on the open market. After 1950, anybody that wins an Oscar has to sign an agreement that they can't sell it.

BLOCK: And that makes this sale even more rare. The auction house is hoping the statuette fetches a million dollars, although, so far...

YNTEMA: I think the last bid when I checked today was approximately $80,000, and the auction ends in one week.

BLOCK: Perhaps a bargain for a piece of Hollywood once thought lost.


WELLES: (as Charles Foster Kane) Rosebud.

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