A jury should decide whether silent film star Mary Pickford signed away rights to sell two Oscars she was awarded, a judge ruled Monday.
Three women who inherited the statuettes and a third one awarded to Pickford’s former husband Charles “Buddy” Rogers had hoped to win a dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The academy, which each year awards film’s highest honor, is seeking to block the public sale of the statuettes.
Pickford won the best actress Oscar in 1930 for “Coquette,” and was given an honorary Oscar in 1976. Rogers won the academy’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1986.
The academy claims it has the right to buy back the Oscars for $10 each.
The women inherited the awards through Rogers’ second wife, Beverly. They claim Pickford won her first Oscar before the academy’s $10 buyback rule was enacted, but the academy counters that Pickford signed an agreement after she won her second Oscar that covers both awards.
Attorneys for both sides argued Monday over whether it is Pickford’s signature on the documents.
Judge Rex Heesemen declined to rule for either party on that issue.
“The more I hear this argument, the more I think these are issues the jury has to decide,” Heesemen said.
It was the second time a judge has rejected a motion that would allow the Oscars’ sale.
Attorneys for the Rogers heirs, Kim Boyer, Virginia Patricia Casey and Marian Stahl, wrote in court filings that the academy is dwindling their estate by fighting the sale.
The heir’s attorney, Mark Passin, said he was disappointed with the judge’s ruling.
The case is scheduled to go to trial later this year, although Heesemen said Monday it may be delayed.