A court case has been filed in the US in a bid to stop the public sale of two Academy Awards which were given to the late silent film star Mary Pickford.
The Motion Picture Academy of Arts & Sciences said it had the right to buy the statuettes for $10 (£4) each.
The academy says an heir to the Oscars demanded $500,000 (£247,875) for a single statuette in July.
Academy solicitor David W Quinto said the articles would be "cheapened" if bought and sold.
"It becomes an article of commerce rather than a very prestigious award," Mr Quinto said.
Breach of contract
Pickford won the Academy Award for best actress in 1930 and was given an honorary Oscar in 1975.
According to the academy, when she died in 1979, they went to her one-time husband actor, Charles "Buddy" Rogers.
In 1986, Rogers won the academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, and when he died all three awards went to his second wife, Beverly.
When she died in January, she left the statuettes to her heirs who are co-executors of her estate.
The case has named three of the heirs, claiming anticipatory breach of contract.
According to the academy, by-laws dating from 1950 and agreements signed by Oscar winners allow the organisation the first chance to buy the awards for $10 each if they ever go on the market.
Mr Quinto said Pickford was a founder of the academy and helped approve the Oscar design.
"From the academy's point of view it's just unthinkable that Mary Pickford would ever consent to do anything that would ever cheapen it in the eyes of the public," he said.
John Shevlin, a solicitor representing Beverly Rogers' estate, was not available to comment.
Last Mod: 02 Eylül 2007, 13:19