Winning an Oscar is the pinnacle of success for any filmmaker, actor or writer in Hollywood. But how much does the famous golden trophy actually cost?

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Each Oscar statuette is reportedly produced for around $400, and has been crafted by New York-based foundry, Polich Tallix, since 2016. However, despite its low production cost, winners are prohibited from selling or disposing of the trophy without first offering it to the Academy for the sum of just $1. This rule was implemented in 1951 to preserve the integrity of the Oscar symbol. Even after a winner passes away, the award can be inherited by their family, but they must still abide by this regulation.

The Academy Awards
(Photo: twitter/@PopBase)

While the majority of Oscars are not sold, at least 16 of them have been purchased throughout their 95-year history. In 2011, 15 statuettes were sold for over $3 million at an auction, with the star of the show being Herman Mankiewicz’s 1941 best screenplay award for Citizen Kane, which fetched a staggering $588,455. In another high-profile sale, Michael Jackson paid $1.54 million for the Gone With The Wind Best Picture Oscar from 1940. However, it’s worth noting that these particular statuettes were presented before 1951, and are therefore exempt from the rule prohibiting their sale.

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So, what are these trophies actually made of? The Oscar figure is crafted of solid bronze and plated in 24-karat gold. Polich Tallix introduced a modern creation process by first creating digital scans of the original 1929 statuette. The design is then 3D-printed and molded, before being cast in wax. The design is coated in a ceramic shell and fired at 1600F, melting the wax and leaving only the shell. The trophies are then cast in liquid bronze and sanded to a mirror polish finish, before finally receiving the 24-karat gold treatment.

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The Oscar figure itself depicts a knight holding a crusader’s sword standing on a reel of film with five spokes, representing the five original branches of the Academy (actors, directors, producers, technicians, and writers). It stands at 13.5 inches tall and weighs 8.5 pounds. Although officially named the Academy Award of Merit, it is believed to have been dubbed an Oscar after Margaret Herrick, an Academy librarian and eventual executive director, claimed that the knight resembled her Uncle Oscar.