Lot #696
Academy Award Plaque: Set Decoration for An American in Paris (1951)

Rare Academy Award for "the color set decoration of 'An American in Paris,' 1951"

This lot has closed

Estimate: $10000+


Rare Academy Award for "the color set decoration of 'An American in Paris,' 1951"

Rare original Academy Award plaque presented "to Edwin B. Willis and Keogh Gleason in recognition of the color set decoration of 'An American in Paris,' 1951," featuring the gilt cast plaque set upon a black base. The tablet features the iconic Oscar figure in high relief, and reads: "Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Award of Merit for Outstanding Achievement." The engraved presentation plaque is affixed to the front panel of the base. In fine condition, with overall rubbing and tarnishing to the metal.

An American in Paris, inspired by George Gershwin's jazz-influenced orchestral piece of the same name, was a massive success at the start of the 1950s. The musical comedy, directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, garnered eight Academy Award nominations, winning six (including Best Picture). Willis and Keogh, the recipients of this award, were two of the most celebrated set decorators in Hollywood—both designers for MGM, they won a combined twelve Oscars between 1942 and 1959.

These Academy Award plaques have an interesting history and are equivalent to their more famous sibling, the Oscar statuette. Earlier in the history of the Academy Awards, Oscar statues were reserved exclusively for 'major' prizes—like Best Picture and Best Actress in a Leading Role—and these plaques were awarded to winners in 'lesser' categories, like Best Supporting Actor and Best Art Direction. Later on, the Academy began an exchange program for recipients of the plaque-style awards, allowing them to swap the plaques for true Oscar statuettes. The plaque design and form factor remain in use today for the Academy Scientific and Technical Awards.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts
  • Dates: #643 - Ended September 14, 2022