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This story first appeared in the March 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
When Michael Jackson died unexpectedly in 2009 at age 50, the executors of his estate began taking inventory of the mountains of valuable (and often bizarre) assets the entertainer had left behind. But one prized Jackson possession eluded their investigation: the best picture Oscar awarded to legendary producer David O. Selznick for the 1939 classic Gone With the Wind. Jackson, a movie buff throughout his life, had purchased the Academy Award in 1999, paying $1.54 million in a Sotheby’s auction (the 1940 Oscar was awarded before there were rules against selling them), still the most ever shelled out for a golden statuette. (Before the auction, the sellers had estimated its worth at a mere $300,000.)
Jackson is presumed to have kept the Oscar at either his Neverland estate near Ojai, Calif., or at the Los Angeles home where he was living when he died. But the Oscar was not found among his belongings, according to the estate. A Jackson family member might have absconded with the trophy, it might simply be hidden and unaccounted for in a storage facility with other possessions, or it might have been stolen during the commotion surrounding his death. Regardless, if it does show up, Jackson’s executors will be waiting to reclaim it.
“The estate does not know where the Gone With the Wind statuette is,” Jackson attorney Howard Weitzman tells THR. “We would like to have that Oscar because it belongs to Michael’s children. I’m hopeful it will turn up at some point.”
Michael Jackson bought the Oscar awarded in 1940 to Selznick (left) for producing Gone With the Wind.
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