How Much Is an Oscar Worth?

getty images
getty images / getty images

Winning an Academy Award is priceless. But if you’re looking to sell one—that price is fixed. Since 1950, the Academy has made Oscar winners sign a contract stating that neither they nor their heirs will attempt to sell the Hollywood hardware on the open market. If winners decide they no longer want a statue, they’re legally obligated to offer it to the Academy first. But the exchange rate is terrible! According to the contract, the owner is entitled to only $1 in compensation.

Interestingly, there’s an opportunity for collectors, because pre-1950 awards aren’t regulated by this agreement. Early Oscars regularly rake in six figures at auction, and it can get pricier. In 1999, Sotheby’s got a cool $1.5 million for Gone with the Wind’s 1940 Best Picture Oscar. The buyer? Michael Jackson.

This story originally appeared in mental_floss magazine. Subscribe to our print edition here, and our iPad edition here.