And the Oscar Goes to…the Highest Bidder

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February 26, 2012; Source: San Francisco Chronicle

Oscar night has come and gone, and while the nonprofit Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (or, “the academy”) is celebrating its biggest night of the year, it’s none too pleased about what’s happening tomorrow—namely, the auctioning of 15 Oscar statues to the highest bidder. The Oscars to be auctioned include the original screenplay for “Citizen Kane.” According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Nate D. Sanders Auctions expects to generate more than $1 million from the sale of the Oscar statues.

The academy has banned the sale of Oscar statues, but that agreement wasn’t reached until 1950, so the academy has no power to restrict the sale of any Oscars received prior to that year.

NPQ understands the academy’s concerns with the auction, which surely serves to degrade the meaning of an Oscar to some degree, but frankly, we think the academy has bigger fish to fry. The honorary membership organization of the motion picture industry is comprised of “more than 6,000 artists and professionals,” according to its website, but as this recent Los Angeles Times column points out, Oscar voters are “94 percent white and 77 percent male, with a median age of 62”—or, to put it another way, “as white, old and male as members of the Tea Party.” The column puts forward the idea that there is nothing wrong with such demographics among the academy “unless you think the Oscar-picking pool should more closely reflect broader American society”—which we do. –Mike Keefe-Feldman

  • Patrick Bell

    I guess the diversity comment depends on whether the Academy is a c3 or a c6. If the latter, as a Mutual Benefit Corporation, they should rightly reflect the will of the members. If the former, as a Public Benefit Corporation, I agree wholeheartedly with the diversity comments. In that case, the board of governors has a conundrum often found in c3 membership organizations, where the board as the governing body and the membership are somewhat at odds. The California AG’s Office consistently sides with the board and its role in these matters.