Why Leonardo DiCaprio’s New Oscar is Only Worth $1

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After five nominations and 25 years of acting his heart out, Leonardo DiCaprio has won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in “The Revenant” and the world can rest easier knowing a great artist has officially (and finally) been recognized.  

But let’s say, for whatever reason, he wanted to sell that award — how much would it be worth? Not much. In fact, you probably have more cash in your wallet than the award is worth.

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According to the Oscars Regulations, any winner of an Academy Award (or anyone who inherits the award) must first offer to sell the statuette to the Academy first for no more than $1:

“Award winners shall not sell or otherwise dispose of the Oscar statuette, nor permit it to be sold or disposed of by operation of law, without first offering to sell it to the Academy for the sum of $1.00. This provision shall apply also to the heirs and assigns of Academy Award winners who may acquire a statuette by gift or bequest.”

The rule was set down in 1951, and since then many people have tried to pawn or auction off Academy Awards, most unsuccessfully.

According to News.com.au, around 150 golden statuettes have been offered for sale before.

In 1989, Cyrus Todd tried to sell his grandfather’s Best Picture Oscar in an auction. His grandfather, producer Michael Todd, won the award in 1956 for the film “Around the World in 80 Days”. The Academy successfully shut down Todd’s auction and obtained a court-ordered injunction to prevent him from ever selling the award.

In 2007, the family of silent film star Mary Pickford attempted to sell one of the actress’s two Academy Awards. Pickford won a Best Actress award in 1929 for the film “Coquette” as well as an honorary Oscar for her contribution to motion pictures in 1975. A jury ruled that the family could not sell the statuette without first offering to sell it to Academy officials.

However, in 1999, auction house Sotheby’s sold a 1939 Best Picture award for the film “Gone With the Wind” to the “King of Pop” Michael Jackson for a record $1.54 million. Since the award predated the regulation, Jackson was able to keep the award, which is still eligible to sell for millions.

In any event, Leo will probably enjoy that statuette sitting in his house for a long time to come.

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