In 1999, producer David O. Selznick’s 1939 Best Picture Oscar for Gone With the Wind sold at auction for more than $1.54 million to singer Michael Jackson. The presale estimate had ranged from $200,000 to $300,000. The winning bid by the King of Pop set a new record for the sale of Hollywood memorabilia.
After Jackson’s sudden, unexpected death in 2009, his estate inventoried the possessions the entertainer kept at his Neverland ranch and at his Los Angeles home. According to The Hollywood Reporter (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/michael-jacksons-15m-gone-wind-867610), the Gone With the Wind Best Picture Academy Award was nowhere to be found.
Howard Weitzman, attorney for Jackson’s estate, told The Hollywood Reporter: “The estate does not know where the Gone With the Wind statuette is. We would like to have that Oscar because it belongs to Michael’s children. I’m hopeful it will turn up at some point.”
As a Gone With the Wind fan, I hope that Selznick’s Best Picture Academy Award surfaces. I would hate to think of that Oscar remaining missing, as is the case with Hattie McDaniel’s Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress for Gone With the Wind.
In her will, McDaniel bequeathed her award to Howard University’s drama department. No official records in the university’s archives show that the institution took possession of the award, after the actress died in 1952. But students who attended Howard University in the 1960s recall seeing the award on display in the fine arts building. The award seems to have vanished in the late 1960s during a turbulent time of social unrest on campus. Over the years and to this day, efforts to find the award have been unsuccessful.
Blog Bio: Pauline Bartel is the author of The Complete GONE WITH THE WIND Trivia Book (2nd edition) and an expert on the film and its history. Visit the website (www.paulinebartel.com/resources/books/books-available) for further information. Follow her on Twitter @PaulineBartel and “like” her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/TheCompleteGWTWTriviaBook).