December 12, 2007 / 12:25 AM / 10 years ago

Bidders hold back for Welles' "Citizen Kane" Oscar

NEW YORK (Reuters) - “Citizen Kane” is revered by many film enthusiasts as the best movie ever made. But apparently none of its admirers is willing to spend a small fortune on Orson Welles’ lone Oscar for the classic 1941 film.

Welles’ Academy Award statuette for best screenplay failed to sell at auction on Tuesday when bidding fell short of the seller’s minimum price, auction house Sotheby’s said.

Sotheby’s declined to reveal the reserve price, but had estimated the Oscar would sell for $800,000 to $1.2 million.

A lot of cash? Perhaps, but precedent exists for such extravagance. In 1999, the best picture Oscar won by “Gone with the Wind” sold at auction for $1.5 million.

The sole Academy Award won by the acclaimed writer, director, actor and producer was given for a film that tells the story of the life and death of a newspaper magnate loosely based on tycoon William Randolph Hearst.

The award, which was being sold by the nonprofit Dax Foundation, still may find a new home: Sotheby’s said it has received inquiries about selling the Oscar privately.

And it was not an empty day for “Citizen Kane.”

Welles’ working copy of the script sold for $97,000 after telephone bidding, Sotheby’s said. The 156-page document was the last revised draft before the final shooting script.

Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf; editing by Michelle Nichols and Eric Walsh

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