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Thursday, 13 September, 2001, 07:56 GMT 08:56 UK
Spacey buys composer's Oscar
Oscars
Oscars are increasingly valuable pieces of memorabilia
An Oscar won by movie composer George Stoll has been bought at auction by Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey for $156,875 (106,972) - seven times more than expected.

Spacey snapped up the statuette, won by Stoll for his score to the 1945 movie Anchors Aweigh, at the sale at auctioneers Butterfields in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Spacey bid for the trophy anonymously over the telephone and later said he had bought it to give back to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Kevin Spacey
Spacey has given the Oscar back to the academy

Spacey follows the example set most recently by the director Steven Spielberg. He returned to the academy Oscars won by Bette Davis and Clark Gable after buying them at auction.

Spacey has himself been awarded two Oscars, for his roles in American Beauty and The Usual Suspects.

"I respect the academy and the integrity of the awards it presents," said Spacey in a statement about his decision to buy the Stoll Oscar.

"And I feel strongly that Academy Awards should belong to those who have earned them not those who simply have the financial means to acquire them."

Generosity

Academy President Frank Pierson, himself an Oscar winner, said he was surprised and touched by Spacey's generous act.

"It's a regrettable fact that some statuettes find their way to auction blocks," said Pierson.


It's heartening to know there are people in the film community, like Kevin, who value what the Oscar statuette symbolises

Academy President Frank Pierson

"It's heartening to know there are people in the film community, like Kevin, who value what the Oscar statuette symbolises and are willing to take action to keep them from becoming 'collectibles'."

The actor is known for his generosity. He donated 1m to help fund new theatres and productions in the UK.

He was also one of the Hollywood celebrities who gave substantial financial support to striking commercial actors in America in 2000.

A Butterfields spokesman said there were five serious bidders vying for the coveted Stoll trophy.

It was being sold as a separate lot in the auction of the composer's estate, which went for a total of $802,169 (546,995).

A 30-carat emerald-cut diamond, also belonging to the composer, is to be auctioned later in September and is expected to fetch as much as $250,000 (170,000).

The auction house spokesman said the whole sale was "one of the busiest" he had seen.

Classics

The interest in the sale reflects the huge and growing interest in Hollywood memorabilia.

But, in this case, it also shows the respect bestowed on Stoll, considered one of the greatest film music writers to date.

The Wizard of Oz
Stoll composed the music to many classics including The Wizard of Oz

Stoll, who died in 1984 at the age of 82, worked on more than 70 movies in a career spanning 30 years.

Many of these films have gone down as classics of their era and of Hollywood history.

They included The Wizard of Oz, Babes in Arms and Meet Me in St. Louis.

Anchors Aweigh was a musical comedy starring Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and Kathryn Grayson.

It told the light-hearted tale of two sailors, one naive, the other experienced who are let loose on leave in Los Angeles.

The film is notable, not only for the quality of the music and song, but also its impressive dance numbers.

See also:

13 Jun 99 | Americas
Oscar's million-dollar sale
13 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Neeson auctions Jedi lightsabre
14 Mar 01 | Scotland
Braveheart props up for auction
15 Mar 99 | The Oscars 1999
Oscar glamour under the hammer
26 Mar 01 | Film
Crowe leads Gladiator to glory
20 Jul 01 | Showbiz
Spielberg buys Bette Davis' Oscar
12 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Spacey boosts strikers' fund
27 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Spacey backs British theatre
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