Oscar Statuettes: 5 Things You Didn't Know About 'the Man'

From how metal shortages during World War II changed Oscar to why selling one on eBay is strictly forbidden, THR counts down five little-known facts.

A version of this story first appeared in the March 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.


1. Oscars are routinely returned to R.S. Owens & Co., the Chicago trophymaker that has produced the statues since 1982, for repairs of maladies ranging from dents and scratches to near decapitations. "We had one come back partially melted," marvels R.S. Owens' Joseph Petree.

2. During the metal shortage brought on by World War II, a gold-painted plaster Oscar was given out; honorees received replacement metal statuettes after the war.

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3. Woe betide the Oscar winner who tries to sell their statuette on eBay! Since 1950, each Oscar has been encumbered by the stipulation that if the recipient wishes to sell the award, he/she must sell it back to the Academy … for $1. When one of producer Mike Todd's heirs attempted to sell Todd's best picture Oscar for Around the World in 80 Days in 1989, the Academy successfully blocked the sale. Oscars awarded before 1950 are fair game -- Orson Welles' best original screenplay Oscar for Citizen Kane sold at auction for $861,542 in 2011.

4. R.S. Owens produces about 50 statues for each Academy Awards, but -- because of ties and other vagaries -- it never knows until the show is over exactly how many will be needed. Any extras are stored at the Academy and used in the following year's ceremony.

5. Every Oscar is engraved with a unique serial number on the base's film reel.