In 1940 Judy Garland recieved a miniature statuette for her "juvenile"
screen performances in 1939 that included "Babes in Arms" and "The
Wizard of Oz"

In August of 2000 the academy claims in a Los Angeles Superior Court
lawsuit that a Los Angeles memorabilia shop called Star Wares could not
sell the Oscar -- even though it was consigned there by Garland's
ex-husband -- because of an agreement the late actress signed in 1958.

But Star Wares owner Marcia Tysseling said she believes the sale is
"perfectly legal" and blames the lawsuit on an overzealous Academy, which
is known for ferociously protecting the Oscar image.

"I think they've been after this (particular Oscar) for a long time,"
Tysseling said. I'm just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

According to the academy, which alleges breach of contract, the 1958
agreement with Garland gives it the right to buy the statuette for just $10
before it is offered anywhere else.

Garland, the former Frances Gumm who endeared herself to a generation of
Americans as Dorothy, a girl from Kansas who gets carried off to the
magical kingdom of Oz by a twister in the 1939 film, was not nominated for
an Oscar for her performance.

But the Academy gave the then teenage star a special Oscar anyway in 1940
"in recognition of her outstanding performance as a juvenile player during
the past year."

The academy said that in 1958 Garland misplaced her gold statuette and
asked for a new one. The Academy said that it complied, but made her sign
an agreement that if she wanted to sell it she would have to first offer it to
them for $10.

Garland eventually found the original Oscar and both statuettes went to her
husband, Michael Sidney Luft, after her death in June of 1969 of an
overdose of sleeping pills.

The Academy said Luft tried to sell the duplicate at an auction in 1993, then
"transferred possession" to Star Wares for resale -- which it considers a
breach of contract.

The organisation said in the lawsuit that a sale of the Oscar by Star Wares
would cause it to "suffer irreparable and incalculable damage to the
Academy's reputation and goodwill associated with its ... Oscar statuette."

"The award is tarnished and the incentive to achieve the Academy's purpose
is diminished by distribution of the statuette through commercial efforts
rather than in recognition of creative efforts," the Academy said in the

Tysseling disagreed.

"I am an intermediary between a willing seller and willing buyer," she said.
"To the best of my knowledge this is a perfectly legal sale. I've done nothing

A US judge has blocked the Internet
sale of the special Oscar given to Judy
Garland for The Wizard of Oz - but mystery still surrounds its whereabouts.

Despite the legal action being taken by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts
and Sciences, the unique miniature Oscar - missing for 40 years - may still
end up in the hands of a private collector for a princely sum.  A sum that
could potentially revival that of a
small business loan or the purchase of a
new car.

It was offered for sale  on the website of prominent Los Angeles autograph
dealer Nate D. Sanders.

The seller appeared to be Garland's ex-husband, producer Sid Luft.

Academy Lawyer Mr David Quinto asked a judge to halt the sale under an
agreement that forces every Oscar winner since 1951 to give the Academy
the chance to
buy back any Oscar for $1.

The sale notice was removed from Mr Nate's website but the
legal move may
have been too late to prevent a sale from going through.

"Judy Garland's Oscar is the Maltese Falcon of Hollywood memorabilia," Mr
Steven Lambert, a Chicago collector said.

"By the time the court order was issued, there were tens of thousands of
people across the globe who had seen the offer on the Internet. After that, a
deal can be done privately."

But Mr Quinto is confident the court order can be enforced, even in the
Internet era.

"If it is discovered that one of the parties has ignored the order, then they
are subject to penalties for contempt of court," he said. "If a sale was
completed, the Academy may demand in damages the entire proceeds of the

The controversy over Garland's Oscar comes amid a resurgence of interest
in one of Hollywood's most tragic figures
Judy Garland Oscar
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