They’re the most coveted prize in Hollywood: the Oscar statues might be worth their weight in gold, but they’re priceless to those who’ve won one.
Or at least, you’d think they would be, because stars losing, trashing or just plain giving away their Academy Awards is not as uncommon as you might think.
Read more: All the 2020 Oscar nominations
Here are nine careless Oscar owners who really need to build themselves a trophy cabinet, preferably with a lock on it…
Jolie floated to the stage to collect the gong for Best Supporting Actress for Girl, Interrupted in 2000. Though she claims she was honoured to accept the award, Jolie also claims she has no idea of its whereabouts.
“I haven’t seen it since the day I won it,” she says. “I don’t hold onto awards because I think it’s good not to have them around.” The actress gave her Oscar to her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, who sadly died in 2007, and the location of the award possibly died with her.
Lawrence is another actress who considers having Oscar on display a bad omen. Upon winning Best Actress for Silver Linings Playbook in 2013, J-Law immediately gave the Oscar to her mother, Karen, to take back to the family home in Kentucky.
“I don’t know where it is,” says Lawrence. “I think it might be in Kentucky. If not, it’s gone I don’t have it.” This doesn’t surprise us coming from the endearingly gawky actress who tripped on her way to the stage and almost had a heart-attack meeting Jack Nicholson at the after-party.
Cuddly White Christmas singer Bing Crosby was named Best Actor for Going My Way in 1944, and happy chappy that he was, agreed to put his statue on display at his alma mater, Gonzaga University. There it resided until 1972, when eagle-eyed students noticed that Bing’s Oscar had been replaced by a tiny figurine of Mickey Mouse.
It was hardly the crime of the century – the award turned up unharmed a week later in the university chapel and was the victim of a student prank. “I just wanted to make people laugh,” the thief wrote anonymously in the school newspaper. It was never confirmed if they did achieve their goal.
Ever the butterfingers, Brando claimed in his autobiography that he’d lost both the Oscars awarded to him. “I don’t know what happened to the Oscar they gave me for On The Waterfront,” he wrote. “Somewhere in the passage of time it disappeared.”
And as for his Oscar for The Godfather, as accepted by (fake) Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather in 1973? “The Motion Picture Academy may have sent it to me, but if it did, I don’t know where it is now.”
Pre-war actress Alice Brady was sadly too ill to take to the stage and collect her award for Best Supporting Actress for In Old Chicago in 1938, so the award was accepted on her behalf.
The only problem was, no one had any idea who the man on stage was, and once he’d swiftly existed stage left, it was discovered he was not a representative of Brady’s camp, just a chancer trying his luck. The man was never identified and the Oscar was never seen again. Tragically, Brady died before she was able to receive her replacement.
Overshadowed somewhat by buddy Ben Affleck winning the Best Picture for Argo in 2013, Matt Damon is relatively nonchalant regarding the Oscar he won for co-writing Good Will Hunting. In fact, he doesn’t even know where it is.
“I know it ended up at my apartment in New York,” says the actor. “But unfortunately we had a flood when one of the sprinklers went off when my wife and I were out of town. That was the last I saw of it.” Police are not willing to rule out a George Clooney prank at this stage.
Gone With The Wind star McDaniel was the first black actor to win an Academy Award, although before World War II, winners of the Best Supporting Actor and Actress awards didn’t get an Oscar statue, only a plaque.
In her later years, suffering from illness, McDaniel gave her Oscar plaque to Howard University in Washington DC where it was proudly displayed, but the award went missing in the 60s. Some claim it’s still gathering dust in some storage closet, while others claim it was stolen or destroyed by race activists.
We’ve all done it: popped to the lav when we’re out on the lash and realised too late we’ve left our phones on the cistern. Colin Firth is no different from you or I, except replace ‘phone’ with ‘Academy Award for Best Actor’.
After a night of cocktails, a sozzled Firth accidentally left his The King’s Speech Oscar in the toilet at an after-party, and was only informed of the fact by a bathroom attendant who, thankfully, rightfully surmised it wasn’t a tip. Col’s not alone: both Meryl Streep and Audrey Hepburn left their Oscars in the bogs too.
One of the more bizarre tales of Oscar misfortune comes from Whoopi Goldberg, who won Best Supporting Actress for Ghost in 1991. Eleven years later, Whoopi decided Oscar was looking a little dusty, so she sent it for cleaning to the company where the statuettes are made. However, Oscar never made it: someone intercepted the parcel and emptied it of its contents en route.
The guilt was all too much for the anonymous thief, however, who ditched it in a trash can at an Ontario airport, perhaps fearing it’d show up on his security X-Ray and prompt difficult questions, like “Why do you have Whoopi Goldberg’s Oscar?”.