Where in the world is Estelle Getty's Emmy?
Son laments auctioning off late mother's trophy
After Getty died in 2008, sons Carl and Barry Gettleman failed to agree on how to divvy up their mom's possessions. So they chose to auction them through Bonhams & Butterfields.
"There was a living trust, but it didn't delineate the division of property," Carl explains, noting the belongings also included Getty's iconic wicker purse from the show, her Golden Globe and her Emmy nomination certificate.
On June 14, 2009, less than a year after the actress' death, her Emmy was sold for $7,320 to an unknown buyer.
Then two months later, it suddenly popped up on eBay, with a suggested opening bid of $15,000.
At this point the TV Academy, which had failed to intervene before the auction, tried to encourage the unknown seller to remove it, pointing out a 30-year-old mandate that Emmys belong to the TV Academy.
That mandate was only defined, however, by a sticker under each statuette, saying, "This Emmy is the property of ... the Academy." (Since 1995, the TV Academy has made recipients sign a contract agreeing not to sell the bauble.) But the actress never signed anything promising her prize would revert to the TV Academy.
"(This) is not something the academy wants to see happen," the organization's John Leverence said at the time.
What it would like to see is where the Emmy is now. But after it appeared on eBay, it vanished for good. Reps for eBay were even harder to track down than Getty's Emmy and never returned calls.
"Those things are special, not something you throw on eBay," sighs Getty's former co-star Betty White. "She was so excited to win and we were so thrilled."
Today, Carl looks back with regret.
"The Emmy had far more sentimental value than (money value) for me, but there's no way to split an Emmy between two (people)," he says. "It should have been made accessible to the public. She was so appreciative of her fans, she would have preferred it somewhere where (they) could see it."