The Oscar that Orson Welles won for the screenplay for Citizen Kane was sold at auction tonight in Los Angeles for $861,542 to an undisclosed bidder, Nate D. Sanders Auctions reported. The seller also remained anonymous. Welles shared the 1941 Academy Award for best original screenplay with Herman J. Mankiewicz. The movie was nominated for nine Oscars including best picture and best actor and director for Welles. Welles’ and Mankiewicz’s was the only Oscar the movie won. Welles’ only other Oscar was an honorary statuette for the 1970 awards year “for superlative artistry and versatility in the creation of motion pictures.”
Underbidder David Copperfield had been eager to acquire the statuette because Welles apparently was something of a magician himself. Copperfield already owns many props from the movie. It’s rare for an Oscar statuette to be sold because since 1950 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has stipulated that all recipients sign a contract giving the organization the right to repurchase the statuette for $1. For a long time the Oscar was lost but it resurfaced when a cinematographer who said Welles had given it to him as payment. Welles’ daughter Beatrice sued and won custody of the statuette. Then the Academy sued her when she tried to auction it in 2003. She won the right to dispense of the Oscar and sold it to a nonprofit that tried unsuccessfully to sell it auction. Sotheby’s also was unsuccessful when it tried to auction the golden guy in 2007 but failed to meet the undisclosed reserve price.