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Sunday, June 13, 1999 Published at 04:12 GMT 05:12 UK

World: Americas

Oscar's million-dollar sale

Gone to the phone bidder: Michael Jackson realises a dream

The allure of Hollywood proved its potency as records fell at a New York auction of film memorabilia.

Superstar Michael Jackson paid a record sum to own a coveted Oscar.

BBC New York Correspondent Jane Hughes reports from the pre-sale viewing
The Thriller star paid $1.54m at auction to own the Best Film Oscar awarded to producer David O Selznick for Gone With The Wind.

Bidding by telephone and through an agent, the bid swept away the previous record for Hollywood memorabilia - a mere $607,000 for Clark Gable's best actor Oscar for his role in the 1934 film It Happened One Night.

And the Jackson bid was five times more than the highest pre-sale estimated price at the New York Sotheby's auction.

[ image: Michael Jackson: Oscar bidder]
Michael Jackson: Oscar bidder
A Sotheby's spokesman said the purchase had fulfilled Michael Jackson's "lifelong desire to own that particular object".

But the singer, who made his millions with worldwide hits like Billie Jean, Thriller and Ben, only realised his ambition after a protracted duel with another telephone bidder.

Dana Hawkes, Sotheby's memorabilia and collectibles specialist, said: "It's just one of those objects where the sky is the limit.

"I had no idea that it was going to go as high as it did."

Scarlett's dress

Other lots from Gone With the Wind, which was recently named the fourth best film ever by the American Film Institute, also commanded top prices.

A dress worn by Vivien Leigh for her role as Scarlett O'Hara, fetched $90,500. It was bought by the owner of Scarlett, a restaurant in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

And a script with Clark Gable's margin notes for variations on the famous "Frankly my dear I don't give a damn" line was bought for $46,000.

Other, more modern film souvenirs also attracted top bids with Christopher Reeve's Superman costume from Superman IV going under the hammer for $26,000.

Only rock 'n' roll

From the world of rock 'n' roll, a copy of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band autographed by the Beatles sold for $57,750 - well above the pre-sale estimate of $10,000.

And a black wool sport jacket worn by Elvis Presley for his first television appearance, in 1956, sold for just under $60,000 after a pre-sale estimate of $15,000 to $20,000.

But Madonna's bustier and hat from the 1987 Who's That Girl world tour only fetched $12,650, barely making its low estimate.

There was also spirited bidding for lots from the 1950s classic sit-com The Honeymooners with the show's kitchen suite set fetching $36,000.

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