An online auction of what was billed as Leo McCarey’s best-director Oscar for 1944’s “Going My Way” was canceled Friday after officials from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences deemed the trophy a fake.
Opening bids for the Oscar, offered online through Chicago-based Mastro Auctions, started Sunday at $25,000.
Academy experts called the statuette a “high-quality counterfeit.” They found the award was made of two mismatched parts, neither of which belonged to McCarey’s original Oscar.
The base was authentic, the experts said, but its nameplate had been removed and replaced with a phony one identifying it as McCarey’s directing award for “Going My Way,” which also won best picture and other honors.
The statuette itself was a close copy, said the Academy’s executive administrator Ric Robertson, but it weighed one pound more than an authentic Oscar.
Counterfeit Oscars are nothing new, said Academy spokeswoman Leslie Unger, but this was the first time a phony was offered for sale as a specific Oscar with a recipient’s name attached.
The person who consigned the statuette to the auction company was not identified.
Robertson said in a statement that “there were indications that the individual who consigned the statuette to the auctioneers may have himself been misled at the time he acquired it.”
He added that the Academy would try to identify who made the copy and “pursue its legal options.”
There was no immediate reply to a telephone call and e-mail to Mastro Auctions seeking comment.