Oscar, Emmy, or Grammy: Which Award Pays the Most at a Pawn Shop?

Read the Article

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

Award season is upon us, which means our TVs will soon be dominated by rich and beautiful people, expensive gowns and tuxedos, shiny golden statues, and incredibly impatient orchestras that just want the beautiful people to shut up and get off the stage.

For most of these celebrities, receiving an award is an incredible honor, the culmination of all their hard work over the past year.

Occasionally though, the award simply becomes one more thing for somebody to hawk.

Whether it be through a pawn shop, private sale, or eBay, it’s not unheard of for an entertainment award to be put on sale.

While most academies have very strict rules against selling an award, and will invoke right of ownership should they discover a sale, they do happen occasionally.

So, if you’re on the market for an iconic trophy that you didn’t earn, here are some prices to keep in mind:


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are very serious about their Oscars not ending up on some pawnbroker’s shelf.

Every actor who wins one has to sign an agreement saying that if they want to sell their Oscar, they first have to offer it to the Academy for $1.

This is a perfect deal for the starving celebrity who just wants to buy fill their tummy with most of a candy bar.

This rule only applies to Oscars awarded after 1950, as well as Oscars awarded before that date to people who also won an Oscar AFTER 1950.

That’s fairly confusing, but unless you won an Oscar before 1950, you probably don’t have to think too much about it.

Just know that, because of this, a 1939 Oscar was sold for $1.5 million, and there was nothing the Academy could do about it.

So who could afford to pay that much? Michael Jackson, that’s who.

The King of Pop paid Sotheby’s, the famed auction company, all that money for the 1939 Best Picture Oscar, originally awarded to Gone with the Wind.

But don’t fret if you don’t have $1.5 million — many pawned Oscars, particularly the illegal post-1950 ones, can be yours for the low, low price of $60,000.


Despite less-strict rules against pawning a Grammy than an Oscar, very few Grammys have actually left the winner’s mantles, making the world’s inventory of black market Grammys shockingly low.

There’s one famous example of a pawned Grammy, which played out on TV. Back in 2010, the reality show Pawn Stars featured a man attempting to sell the 1970 Best R&B Recording Grammy, originally awarded to Ronald Dunbar for “Patches.”

Despite attempting to get over $6,000 for it, the man ultimately sealed the deal for $2,350.

However, Dunbar himself was not amused. Though it was never revealed how the seller got his hands on the Grammy, Dunbar’s immediate attempts to get it back suggest that it wasn’t a Christmas present.

Dunbar claimed legal ownership of the Grammy, got a court to forbid the Pawn Star people from re-selling it, and won his prize back. But at least he knows he can get a couple grand for it if ever wants to.


Much like the Oscars, the Emmys really don’t like when their statues get re-sold.

Usually, when one goes on sale, the Committee immediately leaps into legal action and halts the sale, such as when somebody unsuccessfully attempted to hawk Estelle Getty’s 1988 Best Actress Emmy on eBay for $15,000.

However, since money screams louder than any human voice, sales do happen, with at least one auction company making a nice living off of them.

Auction company Nate D. Sanders has sold off over 20 Emmys, with most of them selling for five digits.

The most expensive appears to be a 1954 Station Achievement Award without a winning name engraved on the bottom. This Emmy went for $17,365, though others went for prices as low as $6,000.

So if you roll the dice well (and don’t run afoul of the Emmy Committee), you could very well wind up with your own Emmy award.


Yes, even the award that recognizes horrible film making can pay well on the street, despite it being nothing but a gold-painted piece of plastic with a street value of $4.89.

In 2004, Razzie founder John Wilson put up a Razzie for auction that a popular star had refused.

He eventually sold it for $1,375, which more than paid off the room for the following year’s Razzie ceremony.

Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further