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Joan Fontaine ‘Suspicion’ Oscar Auction Stymied by Academy

Joan Fontaine and Carey Grant starred in the 1941 Hitchcock classic 'Suspicion," for which she won an Oscar. The Academy has blocked its sale.

Joan Fontaine and Carey Grant starred in the 1941 Hitchcock classic ‘Suspicion,” for which she won an Oscar. The Academy has blocked its sale.

Joan Fontaine’s historic best actress Oscar for her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic “Suspicion,” won’t got to the auction block, because of a threatened lawsuit by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Fontaine, who died a year ago at age 96, specified in her will that her Oscar should be sold to raise funds for the Monterey, California SPCA.

It was expected to fetch as much as $300,000, according to an estimate by Christie’s, which was handling the sale.

But the Academy threatened to sue under a policy that Oscars are meant to be won on merit, not bought and sold. Since 1950, it has required Oscar winners to grant the organization the right to buy back an Oscar for one dollar.

“The Academy, its members and the many film artists and craftspeople who’ve won Academy Awards believe strongly that Oscars should be won, not purchased,” the organization said in a statement.

Fontaine’s estate argued that the actress was not bound by the policy because she won her Oscar in 1941 before the policy was enacted.

But it bowed to the Academy’s wishes to avoid costly litigation, according to a statement from the estate.

“The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was unmoved in the pleadings of all involved, and announced they would file suit if the sale continued,” the statement said.

Fontaine made history when she won the award because, at the time, she was the youngest actress in history to win in the best actress category.

She is the only actor, male or female, to win an Oscar for a Hitchcock film.

“Suspicion” is a psychological thriller. Fontaine stars opposite Cary Grant as a shy spinster who is charmed into marriage by a playboy. He turns out to be penniless con man and she suspects he is attempting to kill her.

Despite the policy, more than a dozen historically significant Oscars have been auctioned in recent years.

The 1941 Oscar for Best Screenplay, awarded to Orsen Welles for the classic film “Citizen Kane,” sold for $861,542 at auction, according to reports. It was Welles only Oscar and the highest selling to date.

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