A jury in Los Angeles has ruled in favour of blocking the sale of two Oscars awarded to silent movie legend Mary Pickford.
Three female heirs, descended from a woman who married Pickford's third husband, Buddy Rogers, wanted to auction the star's two coveted statuettes, including the Best Actress Academy Award, which she scooped for 1929 movie Coquette in her first speaking role.
The trio also wanted to sell an honourary Academy Award handed to Rogers in 1986 for his humanitarian work.
The unnamed sellers hoped to raise money for charity from the sale - but Academy bosses argued that Pickford signed an agreement in the 1970s barring the trophies' sale.
In the 1950s, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences implemented a rule against selling Oscars in a bid to preserve the awards' unique value. According to the agreement signed by Pickford, the academy has the right to buy back Oscars for up to $10 (GBP6.80) before any statuette can be sold.
And a jury in L.A. decided on Monday (15Dec08) that the current owners of the statuettes are bound by the agreement.
The ruling paves the way for a judge to officially block the sale in a hearing due to take place next week (beg22Dec08).