Oscar statue from 1940s fetches $89,625 in Dallas auction

DALLAS Fri Jul 29, 2011 7:24pm EDT

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DALLAS (Reuters) - If you can't win an Oscar, why not buy one?

That's exactly what an avid movie buff did when a golden statue from the 1942 Academy Awards went up for auction on Friday.

A coveted collectible since Oscars are rarely for sale, the statue fetched $89,625, making it the star of bidding at Heritage Auction's movie and music auction in Dallas.

Nearly 800 items were up for bid, including items owned or worn by celebrities such as Elton John, Michael Jackson and Paul Newman, and guitars owned by Elvis Presley.

Heritage declined to release the identities of buyers. The company hosts auctions throughout the year, including a recent auction of dinosaur bones and an upcoming John Wayne auction in Los Angeles.

The Oscar statue was a rare item to turn up for sale, said Margaret Barrett, director of music and entertainment for Heritage Auctions.

A rule adopted in 1950 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences prohibits Academy Award winners or their heirs from selling a statue without first offering it back to the academy for a price of $1.

This Oscar, presented before that rule was enacted, was won by Nathan Levinson for best sound recording for the 1942 film Yankee Doodle Dandy.

The film is a musical biography of entertainer George M. Cohan, starring James Cagney, who also took home an Oscar for best actor. The film earned eight nominations and won three Oscars, including Levinson's and Cagney's.

The Academy, which has given out about 2,800 of the hand-crafted statues since the awards began 1929, gave permission for the Oscar to be put up for auction and was offered by a private collector.

RARE MARILYN MONROE MEMORABILIA

The auction also featured Marilyn Monroe memorabilia, including rarely seen photographs from the private collection of Hollywood photographer Richard C. Miller, who died last year at the age of 98.

"Some of these images were from 1946, when she first started modeling," Barrett said. "Some of them appeared on the covers of old girlie magazines and haven't been seen since."

Marilyn Monroe was still known as Norma Jeane Dougherty when Miller started photographing her as a fresh-faced young model for the Blue Book Model Agency.

"He liked working with her because she was so photogenic," said Margaret Miller, one of photographer's two daughters.

Several of the old images, including Marilyn in the surf wearing a red bathing suit and Marilyn wearing a wedding dress, sold for about $1,500.

Miller again photographed her on the set of the film Some Like It Hot in 1959, and his photo of her in a sequined dress sold for $2,868.

Fetching $19,120, the most of any item from the Miller collection, was a model release form she signed with Miller in 1946 as Norma Jeane Dougherty.

The form was one of the more expensive items in the auction, along with a Pierrot costume worn by Elton John in two music videos in the 1980s. The costume sold for $14,340 and was presented to John by a German Pierrot in the 1970s.

(Editing by Karen Brooks and Cynthia Johnston)

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