A mystery Hollywood star has offered their Oscar as collateral in a bid to secure a $70,000 loan.
The film industry heartland has been abuzz with speculation as to who the hard-up headliner could be; the only clue being that he or she won the golden statuette before 1951.
It could mean the secret borrower is simply the relative of a famous actor or director who has since died after winning the gong during the Golden Age of cinema.
Despite costing just £250 ($400) to make, the gold pewter prizes handed out during the Academy Awards have far greater value on the rare occasions they come to auction, with Michael Jackson famously paying $1.5million for the 1939 Best Picture Oscar awarded to Gone with the Wind.
Who is it? An Oscar winner has used their statuette to take out a $70,000 loan.
And one winner, or their family, has sought to make use of their valuable possession to get credit from ‘posh pawnbroker’ Borro.
The Oscar winner in this instance remains secret, with Borro unable to reveal their identity, but it can be narrowed down to someone based in America who got their award prior to 1951.
Only Oscars won before 1951 can actually be sold without the approval of the Academy as they belong to the individual winner. Awards won after this date technically belong to the Academy and winners must offer the Academy the chance to buy it back for just $1 before they can cash in.
This is not an Oscar that has been sold and now belongs to the winner or their family.
Borro offers loans of up to £1million provided customers can put up assets such as supercars, jewellery and fine art as collateral.
This borrower in this instance must now pay the loan back or they could see their Oscar disappear for good.
One in ten of those taking out the short-term, high-rate loans with Borro end up losing their possessions as they default on their repayments.
When this happens, Borro can then sell the item at auction, recouping the remainder of the loan and any extra interest, before passing the rest of the profits back to the owner.
Paul Aitken, founder of Borro, said that there is huge value in movie memorabilia, though even he was taken aback by this borrower.
He said: ‘In the last six years we have seen a huge increase in wealthy individuals using their personal assets as collateral for loans, however the Oscar statuette is a first for us.
‘While we have traditionally issued loans against fine art, jewellery, luxury cars and antiques, this rare item helped a customer access a large loan, and is one of many of the unusual assets that come our way.’
Borro loans are usually provided to fund home improvements or are used as bridging finance during property purchases, though the lender could not confirm whether this loan was being used by someone looking to upgrade in the Hollywood hills.
While undoubtedly the highest profile item Borro has lent against from the movie world, it’s by no means the first.
It revealed it had provided a £13,000 loan to someone who put up a motorbike belong to Tinseltown legend Steve McQueen, as well as a £17,000 loan against props from one of McQueen’s films, Le Mans.
Proud: Joan Fontaine and Gary Cooper hold up their Oscars for their parts in Suspicion and Sergeant York in 1942
And the winners are… Actors (left to right) Broderick Crawford (Best Actor, All the King’s Men), Olivia De Havilland (Best Actress, The Heiress), Mercedes McCambridge (Best Supporting Actress, All the King’s Men) and Dean Jagger (Best Supporting Actor, Twelve O’Clock High) pose with their awards in 1949
Sam Lilley, head of valuations at Borro, said that props and costumes tend to command the biggest fees at auctions, particularly if they belonged to Hollywood idols like Marilyn Monroe, or successful franchises like James Bond or Star Wars. Marilyn Monroe’s famous white subway dress from The Seven Year Itch sold for $4.6million in 2011, while even a tiny item can command a big price, with The Everlasting Gobstopper from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory selling for $50,150 in the same year.
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