Stolen Oscars are discovered near a dumpster--We investigate the crime

By Will Lee and Corey Takahashi
Updated March 31, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

The Great Oscar Caper has come to a Hollywood-esque happy ending. On March 19, scavenger Willie Fullgear, 61, found 52 of the 55 missing statuettes next to an L.A. Dumpster. Two days later, an employee of the Academy’s shipping firm was charged in connection with the heist (he pled not guilty). Well, it’s almost a happy ending: Three statuettes remain at large. Are any nominees suspected? No, but Academy spokesman John Pavlik deadpans, ”a lot of people thought it was Jim Carrey who took them.” Here are some other Burning Questions.

Assuming the thief had gotten away with it, how much does your average Oscar go for?
The Academy pays $327.27 for each of the Golden Guys. Their street value is higher — but not by much: Olga Fradis, manager of the Union Pawnbrokers in L.A., says she’d shell out no more than ”$500 to $1,000. It’s hard to get rid of an item like that…customers would think something’s fishy.” Less suspicious Oscars go for big bucks: Vivien Leigh’s family auctioned off her Gone With the Wind Best Actress statuette for over $500,000 in 1993.

Not counting Marisa Tomei, is this the first time Oscar has been stolen?
No, sir. One statuette, for 1937’s Best Supporting Actress, Alice Brady (In Old Chicago), was lifted during the ceremony, right on stage, says Oscar historian Arnold Wayne Jones. Brady was absent due to a broken ankle, and when her name was announced, an unidentified man accepted the award ”on her behalf” — never to be seen again.

Who’s going to make Oscar Heist: The Movie?
Says screenwriter Zak Penn (Inspector Gadget): ”I imagine an animated movie about the lost Oscars trying to find their way home. The lead Oscar ends up nestled in Angelina Jolie‘s bosom.”