LOS ANGELES Fifteen Oscar statuettes are to be auctioned off next week in what organizers said on Tuesday is the largest collection of Academy Awards ever to go under the hammer.
Los Angeles auctioneers Nate D. Sanders said the Oscars that will go up for grabs two days after the 2012 Academy Awards ceremony include the one given to writer Herman Mankiewicz for his "Citizen Kane" screenplay with Orson Welles.
Welles' own best screenplay Oscar for the 1941 movie -- regarded as one of the best films ever made -- fetched $861,542 at a Nate D. Sanders auction in December.
Other Oscars up for sale on February 28 include the 1933 best picture Oscar for "Cavalcade", film editing and musical score statuettes for the 1946 classic "The Best Years of Our Lives" and cinematographer Gregg Toland's 1939 Oscar for the black and white movie "Wuthering Heights".
The auction house said it expected the 15 Oscars to fetch a total of about $2 million.
"This is the most significant collection of Oscars to ever be auctioned. It contains Academy Awards from epic films such as 'Citizen Kane' and 'The Best Years of Our Lives'" Sanders said.
"Furthermore, 'Cavalcade' is the earliest best picture Oscar to ever be offered in an auction."
Oscars are increasingly rare finds at auction. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1950 introduced an agreement that banned winners from selling their Oscars to anyone but the Academy for the nominal sum of $1.
The best picture Oscar for the 1939 film "Gone With the Wind" was sold to singer Michael Jackson in 1999 for a record $1.54 million.
The 2012 Academy Awards will be handed out at a ceremony in Hollywood on February 26.
(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)