The original 'Best Screenplay' Oscar statuette awarded to Orson Welles for his 1942 film Citizen Kane has been sold for $861,542 at the Los Angeles auction house Nate D. Saunders. According to Reuters, the award was sold on Tuesday (December 20, 2011) by an anonymous seller.

The statuette itself has a chequered past. It was thought to be lost for many years, until it was put up for sale in 1994 by a cinematographer who claimed it had been given to him as payment, by Welles himself. Beatrice Welles, Orson's daughter sued the Oscar's owner and won the statuette back but was then sued herself (by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) when she tried to auction it in 2003. This is not the only Oscar statuette to have sold for such a phenomenal sum; in 1999 the late Michael Jackson bought the 'Best Picture' Oscar that was awarded to the 1939 film Gone with the Wind for a record amount of $1.54 million.

Citizen Kane has, for years, been hailed as a ground-breaking masterpiece of cinematic history and the sale of the Oscar follows a similar auction last week, in which Christie's auction house accrued $150 million in sales of memorabilia related to the actress Elizabeth Taylor. Christie's, however, drew the line at Taylor's Oscar's statuettes, stating that they would not be up for sale.