Thursday, September 6, 2007
An interesting restraint-on-alienation case is brewing in Hollywood. Does the winner of an Academy Award (or her heirs) have the right to sell the Oscar statuette, or does the Academy have a contractual right in perpetuity to buy the statuette back for a pittance?
That’s the issue involving heirs of silent film star and film mogul Mary Pickford. Pickford won an Oscar as Best Actress in 1930 for her first speaking part, in Coquette -- that's her with her statuette -- and got a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1975. She was also a co-founder of United Artists. Her heirs want to sell the Oscar statues. Presumably many collectors of film memorabilia would be interested.
But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is suing to prevent them from selling the awards. AMPAS says that Oscar-winners are required to sign an agreement that gives it a perpetual right to buy back any Oscar statuette for $10 if it ever goes on sale.
In addition to the contractual issues, there may be problems (according to a colleague) with the Rule Against Perpetuities in at least some states, since the repurchase right isn’t limited to lives-in-being plus 21 years.