Joan Fontaine's 1941 best actress Oscar up for auction

Tue Oct 14, 2014 7:32pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Silver screen star Joan Fontaine's 1941 best actress Oscar statuette will go on the auction block, Christie's said on Tuesday in a rare sale of Hollywood's top prize.

Fontaine, who died last year at age 96, won the honor for her role in Alfred Hitchcock's thriller "Suspicion" playing opposite Cary Grant. She was the only performer to win an Oscar for a Hitchcock film.

The statuette is expected to fetch between $200,000 and $300,000 on Dec. 11 in New York, said Christie's, which will sell Fontaine's property at several auctions between November and January.

Oscars are rare memorabilia items because, starting in 1950, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, host of the Academy Awards, prohibited winners, their heirs or estates from selling the trophy without first offering it to the Academy for $1.

The Academy did not respond to a request for comment on the sale of Fontaine's Oscar.

Proceeds from the sale of Fontaine's property, which Christie's said could top $1 million, are to benefit the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for Monterey County in Northern California.

Fontaine, who famously feuded with older sister Olivia de Havilland, the winner of two Oscars, also starred in Hitchcock's 1940 thriller "Rebecca," which won the best picture Oscar.

Other notable items include Russian artist Marc Chagall's 1935-36 gouache and pastel painting "Vase of Flowers in the Window," which is expected to sell for $400,000-$600,000 at a Nov. 6 auction in New York, Christie's said.

Another painting by Chinese artist Lin Fengmian, "Chrysanthemums in a Vase," is expected to fetch between $200,000 and $250,000 at a Christie's auction next month in Hong Kong.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey, editing by Patricia Reaney and Gunna Dickson)