The Kane Mutiny


A federal court has ruled that Orson Welles' daughter may sell his Citizen Kane Oscar to the highest bidder. It is all very complicated, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had argued that a terms of ownership rider it has attached to all Oscars awarded since 1950 applied to the 1942 Kane fetish as well.

As for Beatrice Welles, she claims the up to $1 million the sale is expected to bring would be used to help abused animals. Why that is important is unclear. Presumably the funds are fungible and will relieve Ms. Welles of the burden of raising funds for her cause. If the Oscar is hers to do with as she pleases, she can hock it and hit Vegas with a nice bankroll.


NEXT: More Fat Stuff

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  1. Is it really a contract though? As a general principle, an award is a *gift*, meaning there’s no consideration from the recipient. I’m not sure the Oscar rider would even fall under the scope of the Academy’s membership rules, since Oscars can and are awarded to non-members.

  2. Warren-
    Show me where the Oscar recipients signed something agreeing to these terms, and I’ll agree it’s a contract.

  3. Quotes from the article:
    “At the time, she agreed to the Academy’s standard ownership terms, including its right of first refusal to buy back the statuette for $1. ”

    “In 1950, the Academy amended its bylaws to prevent the open-market sale of Oscars.

    So there appear to be ‘standard ownership terms’ contained in ‘Academy bylaws’. If Jennifer is right, and recipients are not required to agree to the terms, then Skips point is also valid and non members should not bound by them.

  4. “And the borrower is…”

  5. Jeff, it’s pure marketing. She’s selling the *brand*, not just the bald gold dude, and the brand includes the idea that the proceeds go to help cuddly animals. If that gets her to peel an extra 100G’s off her mark, that’s the free market, right?

  6. I don’t understand the legal basis for the no-sale rule: “I’m giving you this award but it still belongs to me, so to honor you for your achievement I will make you follow various rules concerning this objet d’art.”

  7. Jennifer,
    You understand the rule perfectly. What about the “legal basis” don’t you understand? It’s a simple contract.

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