It’s not often that an Oscar trophy – from the Golden Age of Hollywood – is put on the auction block.
In the coming days, memorabilia enthusiasts and fans alike will have a chance to get their hands on the golden statue won by the 1949 black-and-white fantasy film Mighty Joe Young for Best Special Effects.
Willis O’Brien, a pioneer in motion picture special effects who specialized in stop-motion animation, ended up taking home the Oscar for his groundbreaking work, which included transforming a bunch of wood, tar paper and old toupees into an 80-foot gorilla for the movie.
The statuette is hitting the auction block July 16 as part of Heritage Auctions‘ Entertainment Memorabilia sale.
Hollywood history up for sale: The Oscar trophy for Best Special Effects for Mighty Joe Young (1949) is coming up for auction and could bring in about $500,000, according to TMZ
An opening bid of $250,000 has also been posted on the website but the Oscar is expected to sell for around $500,000, according to TMZ.
There is a bit of a Hollywood backstory attached to this particular Academy Award.
At the time, the rules of the Academy dictated that the producer of the winning film receive the Oscar.
However, in recognition of his groundbreaking work on Mighty Joe Young and King Kong (1933) 16-years earlier, producer and story creator Merian C. Cooper presented the trophy to O’Brien.
Coming soon: The golden statuette is hitting the auction block July 16 as part of Heritage Auctions ‘ Entertainment Memorabilia sale
To avoid Oscar statuettes from being a collector’s item to be bought and sold, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has a rule that prohibits recipients from selling or disposing of an Oscar trophy without first offering it back to the Academy for $1.
But in this particular case, Cooper chose to give the trophy to O’Brien, so it was not personalized. Plus, the award was given to him before the rule went into effect in 1951, and thus, is able to go up for sale.
Willis famously turned down the Oscar the Academy offered him for his work on King Kong in 1933, citing that he wanted a trophy for everyone in his crew.
Backstory: Back in 1949, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) dictated the producer of the winning film receive the Oscar, so Cooper present the trophy to O’Brien on his own in recognition of his groundbreaking work on Mighty Joe Young and King Kong
Willis O’Brien was a pioneer in motion picture special effects who specialized in stop-motion animation; along with Mighty Joe Young and King Kong, the Oakland, California native was also heralded for his work on The Lost World (1925)
Produced by the same creative team responsible for King Kong, Mighty Joe Young starred Terry Moore, Robert Armstrong, Ben Johnson, Frank McHugh and Douglas Fowley.
It tells the story of a young woman, Jill Young, living on her father’s ranch in Africa, who has raised the title character Joe, a large gorilla, from an infant and years later brings him to Hollywood seeking her fortune in order to save the family homestead.
As his popularity grows to the status of Hollywood’s biggest nightclub attraction, Joe and Jill get homesick for Africa, and he quickly becomes tired of performing and miserable in his cage and in the spotlight.
Honorable: Willis famously turned down the Oscar the Academy offered him for his work on King Kong in 1933, citing that he wanted a trophy for everyone in his crew