The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has sued an Everett woman and her relatives to stop them from selling the gold-plated statuettes to the public.
Oscars famously inspire elation, long acceptance speeches and multimillion-dollar movie deals, but one has spurred a lawsuit against an Everett woman and her relatives.
Kim Boyer is one of three heirs in possession of Oscars won by legendary film stars Mary Pickford and Charles “Buddy” Rogers.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences this week sued Boyer and her relatives to stop them from selling the gold-plated statuettes to the public — which is in violation of Academy bylaws.
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“When the Oscar was created, it never occurred to people that it could become an article of commerce,” said David W. Quinto, an attorney for the Academy, which filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The Academy’s bylaws dating back to the 1950s say that anyone who wants to sell an Oscar must first offer it back to the Academy for $10.
Boyer, the niece of Rogers’ second wife, said she’s only trying to sell one Oscar — won before the bylaws were in place — to fulfill the terms of her aunt’s will.
That statuette is a historic Oscar won by Pickford, who was Rogers’ first wife. It was awarded to Pickford for her 1929 performance in “Coquette” — the first best-actress Academy Award given for a talkie.
Pickford, known as “America’s Sweetheart,” also won an honorary Oscar in 1975.
Pickford’s third husband, Rogers, won his own Oscar when he was given the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1985.
Rogers’ second wife and Boyer’s aunt, Beverly Rogers, inherited all three Oscars. When she died in January, the statuettes became part of her estate.
In Beverly Rogers’ will, she specified that Pickford’s first Oscar be sold and that proceeds go to the Buddy Rogers Youth Symphony in Palm Springs, Calif., and to other charities benefiting young actors.
“We’re not getting a dime,” said Boyer. “By law … we are bound to pursue this matter.”
Estimates for Oscars range from $50,000 for the less-famous to $1.5 million for those belonging to Hollywood’s elite.
Boyer did some research and determined Pickford’s award for her 1929 performance is worth about $500,000.
So when the Academy made an offer to donate $50,000 over two years to Rogers’ foundation, Boyer countered with $500,000. Her offer was rejected, she said.
“They had a chance to do this the right way and to offer us a reasonable amount for this,” she said.
According to The Academy, Pickford signed an agreement after she won her second statuette that subjected both her Oscars to the bylaws.
But Boyer, along with her cousin Virginia Casey of Tacoma and sister Karen Dubois, are trying to prove that the document was signed by someone else. She hopes that would free the first Oscar from the Academy bylaws, allowing the family to sell it.
Quinto, the attorney, said Pickford, a founding member of the Academy, “would be the last person who would want to see it on the market sold to the highest bidder.”
As for the other two Oscars, “we’re going to keep those in the family,” Boyer said.
Christina Siderius: firstname.lastname@example.org