The Oscar statuette is the most prestigious prize in Hollywood—here's why it's only worth $1

Joaquin Phoenix, Renée Zellweger and Brad Pitt pose with their Oscars after the 92nd Annual Academy Awards ceremony.
Steve Granitz | Wireimage | Getty Images

Winning an Academy Award is often considered the most prestigious honor you can receive in Hollywood.

Earning an Oscar can instantly allow actors to command as much as 20% more money on their next project. But although taking home the top prize in one of the top acting categories can be career-changing, the trophy itself is worth less than a cup of coffee.

That's because the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which gives out the Oscars, has strict rules in place to prevent winners from profiting off of the sale of their trophies.

In fact, according to the Academy's official regulations, winners are not allowed to "sell or otherwise dispose of the Oscar statuette ... without first offering to sell it to the Academy for the sum of $1."

And if an Oscar winner dies and passes their award down to their children, those heirs must also abide to the same rules and cannot sell or give away the statuette.

These rules were first introduced in 1951, and are in place to "preserve the integrity of the Oscar symbol," the Academy says in its materials.

Oscars that were awarded prior to the introduction of the rule are technically fair game for collectors. In 1999, Michael Jackson paid $1.54 million for the best picture Oscar awarded to "Gone With the Wind" in 1940. And in 2011, the 1942 Oscar that "Citizen Kane" was awarded for its screenplay sold at auction for $861,542.

In addition to restricting what winners can do with their trophies, the Academy has also "carefully limited reproductions of the Oscar statuette." The Los Angeles Times reported in 2016 that the Academy has sued candy shops for making chocolate replicas of Oscar statuettes and gone after awards websites that use "Oscar" in their names.

The 94th Academy Awards will be held Sunday, March 27. They will air at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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