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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 July, 2003, 09:15 GMT 10:15 UK
Welles Oscar auction blocked
Orson Welles
Welles co-wrote and directed Citizen Kane
Orson Welles' Oscar for Citizen Kane has been removed from sale because of a legal wrangle over whether the statuette can be auctioned.

Welles' daughter was due to put the award - valued at up to $400,000 (250,000) - under the hammer on Friday.

But the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars, says it has the right to buy it back for $1 (62p).

"We were told the dispute would be settled before the sale date, and since that did not happen, we decided to withdraw the Oscar," a spokeswoman for Christie's auction house said.

Welles won just one competitive Oscar, for best original screenplay for Citizen Kane, which he also directed, in 1942.

Citizen Kane is now regarded by many critics as the greatest film ever made.

Agreement

His original statuette was thought to have been lost and in 1988, his daughter, Beatrice, requested a duplicate from the Academy.

They asked her to sign an agreement that they could buy the award back for $1 if it was ever put up for sale - as they have done with every Oscar winner since 1950.

But the original statuette resurfaced in 1994, and Beatrice Welles won a legal battle to have it returned after telling a court how much it meant to her, a lawyer for the Academy said.

In June, the Academy learned that she planned to auction the original because of financial difficulties.

The organisation told her the statuette was "not an article of commerce" and offered financial help if she would return the original and duplicate statuettes.

Objections

But she sued the Academy "for interfering with her right to do with her property as she wishes," her lawyer said.

The Academy has previously blocked the sale of statuettes awarded to Clark Gable and others.

But in 1999, Michael Jackson paid $1.54m (960,000) for the best picture Oscar awarded for Gone with the Wind.

Academy spokesman Jon Pavlik said: "We basically object each time [a sale is attempted] in those instances where we have agreements."

Other items, including a costume tail coat from Citizen Kane and a Gibson guitar once owned by Bruce Springsteen, will still be sold at the memorabilia auction on Friday.


SEE ALSO:
Welles' daughter sues over film rights
03 Feb 03  |  Entertainment
The genius of Kane
09 Aug 02  |  Entertainment
Citizen Kane tops critics' poll
09 Aug 02  |  Entertainment
Kane tops best-ever script list
05 Aug 01  |  Entertainment
Spielberg buys Bette Davis' Oscar
20 Jul 01  |  Entertainment
Oscar's million-dollar sale
13 Jun 99  |  Americas


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