"Citizen Kane" Oscar Sells for $861,542

Orson Welles' Best Screenplay Academy Award was a hot item at a recent Sotheby's auction.

By Eric Alt
|  Tuesday, Jan 31, 2012  |  Updated 1:16 PM CDT
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Orson Welles' Best Screenplay Academy Award for "Citizen Kane" sold for over $800,000 at a recent auction.

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After being lost for years and then subject to two unsuccessful auction attempts, Orson Welles' "Best Screenplay" Oscar for "Citizen Kane" has finally found a new owner.

The statuette was awarded to Welles in 1942 for his seminal film -- still considered one of the best films ever made -- but was lost by the maverick auteur and was only recovered after his death in 1985. It was won by an anonymous bidder for $861,542 at an auction held by auction house Nate D. Sanders in Los Angeles.

The Oscar had been the object of a series of failed auction attempts and legal wrangling over the years. First, in 1994, a cinematographer tried to auction the award claiming it was given to him by Welles as payment. He was then sued by Welles' daughter, Beatrice, who took possession of the Oscar.

When Beatrice Welles attempted to auction it in 2003, she was sued by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She eventually won custody of the statuette and donated it to a non-profit organization, who also tried -- and failed -- to auction it in 2007.

At long last, the Best Screenplay Oscar has been sold.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences began halting public sale of Oscar statuettes in 1950, but several Oscars that predate the agreement have been sold for impressive figures. A "Gone With the Wind" Best Picture Oscar -- awarded in 1939 -- was sold to Michael Jackson in 1999 for a record-setting $1.54 million.

Selected Reading: MSNBC, Entertainment Weekly, The Guardian

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