The Oscar award that Michael Curtiz won for Casablanca is to be auctioned with high expectations in an online sale on June 28.
The auction house has estimated the best director award at $2.5m-3m, stating that the market for Academy Awards has more than tripled in the past 10 years. Should Curtiz's award reach this impressive figure, it will top the record $1.5m paid in 1999 by Michael Jackson for the best picture Oscar awarded to Gone with the Wind.
However, the sale isn't the first time the Casablanca award has appeared on the market. Magician David Copperfield previously bought the statuette at Christie's for $231,500 in 2003, a fairly low sum considering auction precedents.
In December 2011, the same auction house sold Orson Welles' Oscar for his screenplay of Citizen Kane for $861,000. The award presented to Herman Mankiewicz for the same film has also been recently sold, bringing $588,455.
The high prices achieved at auction are fuelled by a 1950 rule enacted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, that prevents any awards presented after that date being sold without first being offered back to the Academy for $1, resulting in very few available on the market.
Bids at the auction have already reached $407,000, with two days left before bidding closes. Also featuring will be the Academy Award for best scoring of a musical picture, which was won by 1949's On the Town, starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra.
As the auction looks set to demonstrate, items from Hollywood's iconic Golden Age are in great demand. Paul Fraser Collectibles has this fantastic pair of jodhpurs worn by Casablanca star Humphrey Bogart.