He is the man who photographed Elizabeth Taylor in 70 mm as the sultry Cleopatra. His Technicolor rendition of Woodrow Wilson won accolades from critics and people alike. Thanks to his brilliant photography, the film community, despite having their newest and seemingly better version of Black Swan-will not really dare forget its old, swashbuckling 1942 namesake. And now sixty-eight years after Leon Shamroy held an Oscar for the movie “Wilson”, the world gets a chance to make Shamroy’s priced possession theirs. Yes, heard that right. The second Academy Award won by Leon Shamroy, in his successful career as a noted cinematographer, is all set to go under the hammer.
Shamroy’s however is not the first academy award to have figured in the “Oscars for auction” list. Oscar awards belonging to noted technicians and crew members had earlier fetched record prices at different auctions. The collective worth of the fifteen Oscar statues which have gone under the hammer till date stands at a whopping $3 million. Among them, the one awarded to Herman Mankiewicz for best screenplay (Citizen Kane) is by far the priciest, having garnered $588,455 at an event.
Coming back to Shamroy and the reason he is back in news thirty-years after death, you must know that the man, over the course of his five decade long career, had garnered four Oscar wins. Together with Charles Lang, Shamroy holds the record for the most number of academy award nominations in the best cinematography category. He is also the first technician in the history of cinema to employ the path breaking wide screen format, known today as CinemaScope. His wholehearted devotion to the precise and brilliant use of light is often considered iconic by movie gurus. Leon Shamroy, therefore, is a name that will forever be remembered in cinema discourses for more reasons than one.
Shamroy’s Oscar, slated to go on auction, is an amazing figure which stands on a film reel measuring 10.25'' from the reel’s base to the statue’s head. The diameter measures something around 5.25'', with the statue’s weight being 6 lbs. A notarized authorization letter by Shamroy’s widow accompanies the masterpiece. All said and done, to whom the Oscar finally goes this season is something only time can tell.
UPDATE: Oscar presented to Leon Shamroy for his colour cinematography fetched cool $551,588 in an online auction.