The Oscar: How It’s Made, and What It’s Worth
Presented by: JMBullion
The “Academy Award of Merit”, more commonly known as an Oscar, has been awarded since 1929. The modern Oscar stands 13.5 inches tall with a weight of 8.5 lbs, and it is made of solid bronze with a electroplated coating of 24-karat gold.
However, the world’s most beloved trophy wasn’t always made this way. Here’s the evolution of how an Oscar is made, and what people are willing to pay to get their hands on one.
The Evolution of the Award
1928: The original Oscar was sculpted by Los Angeles artist George Stanley. The design was based on sketches by MGM art director Cedric Gibbons, who came up with the idea of a knight standing on a reel of film gripping a crusader’s sword.
1929: The first ever Oscar was presented at the initial awards banquet on May 16, 1929 to Emil Jannings for Best Actor. It was made of gold-plated solid bronze.
1930s: The bronze was abandoned in favor of britannia metal, a pewter-like alloy which is then plated in copper, nickel silver, and finally, 24-karat gold.
World War II: Due to a metal shortage, Oscars were made of painted plaster for three years. After the war, the Academy invited recipients to redeem the plaster figures for gold-plated metal ones.
1983: R.S. Owens and Company, a Chicago-based awards manufacturer, takes over the contract to build Oscars.
2016: The Academy announced that New York-based Polich Tallix will help return the statuette closer to its original design.
The New Oscar
Using a cast bronze Oscar from 1929, Polich Tallix artisans have restored subtle features of George Stanley’s original sculpture, which was based on sketches by MGM art director Cedric Gibbons.
This was done by creating a digital scan of the 1929 statuette, and then 3D printed and molded so the form could be cast in wax.
Here’s how each new Oscar is made:
- The modern wax versions are dipped in a ceramic shell slurry for ten coats. Once the shell is cured, it is fired in an oven at 1600° F.
- Bronze at 1860° F is then poured into the hot ceramic shell and allowed to cool overnight.
- The next morning, the bronze castings are broken out of the ceramic shell and the plumbing system that guides the metal into the body of the casting is cut off.
- The castings are then sanded to a mirror polish finish and electroplated with a permanent layer of 24-karat gold by Epner Technology.
- The statuette’s bronze base receives a smooth black patina, which is hand-buffed to a satin finish.
The time required to produce 50 statuettes in this manner is about three months.
“With the help of some 21st century technology, we’re able to honor the Oscar’s proud beginnings,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “The new statuette exemplifies impeccable craftsmanship and the enduring nature of art.”
What’s an Oscar Worth?
Oscars on the open market can command up to millions of dollars. However, this wouldn’t be the case if the Academy had its way.
Since 1950, the Academy has not allowed winners to keep Oscars unless a First Right of Refusal agreement is signed. It stipulates that an Oscar cannot be sold by a winner unless it is offered to the Academy first for the sum of $1.
Here’s what an Oscar is really worth:
According to R.S. Owens, the longtime maker of modern-day Oscars up until this year, the cost to produce one statuette is $400.
Assuming $1,200/oz gold, a standard gold electroplated coat of 15 millionths of an inch thick, and a 2.2 sq. ft surface area, the melt value of the gold coating alone is $57.40.
A hypothetical solid gold Oscar? It would weigh 18 lbs and have a melt value of $330,522.
Stars Hit the Bid
Since 1929, approximately 150 Oscars have been sold on the open market, with around half of them being grey-market sales from the post-1950 era.
Here’s some stars that have bought or bid for Oscars during their careers. All numbers are converted to 2016 USD:
David Copperfield – $299,000
Oscar for Best Director to Michael Curtiz (Casablanca, 1942)
Copperfield bought it in 2003, and kept it in his bedroom. He auctioned it off for over $2 million in 2012
David Copperfield – $907,000 (failed bid)
Oscar for Best Screenplay to Orson Welles (Citizen Kane, 1941)
Copperfield tried to acquire a second Oscar in 2011, but was outbid by a private buyer
Michael Jackson – $2.19 million dollars
Oscar for Best Picture (Gone With the Wind, 1939)
Bought in 1999 for a record price of $1.54 million at the time, Michael paid far higher than the pre-sale estimated price of $300,000.
Steven Spielberg – $917,000
Oscar for Best Actor to Clark Gable (It Happened One Night, 1943)
Spielberg bought the Oscar, and donated it back to the Academy for safekeeping
Steven Spielberg – $773,000
Oscar for Best Actress to Bette Davis (Jezebel, 1938)
Spielberg bought the Oscar, and donated it back to the Academy for safekeepingEmbed This Image On Your Site (copy code below):
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Mapped: The 10 Largest Gold Mines in the World, by Production
Gold mining companies produced over 3,500 tonnes of gold in 2021. Where in the world are the largest gold mines?
The 10 Largest Gold Mines in the World, by Production
Gold mining is a global business, with hundreds of mining companies digging for the precious metal in dozens of countries.
But where exactly are the largest gold mines in the world?
The above infographic uses data compiled from S&P Global Market Intelligence and company reports to map the top 10 gold-producing mines in 2021.
Editor’s Note: The article uses publicly available global production data from the World Gold Council to calculate the production share of each mine. The percentages slightly differ from those calculated by S&P.
The Top Gold Mines in 2021
The 10 largest gold mines are located across nine different countries in North America, Oceania, Africa, and Asia.
Together, they accounted for around 13 million ounces or 12% of global gold production in 2021.
|Rank||Mine||Location||Production (ounces)||% of global production|
|#1||Nevada Gold Mines||🇺🇸 U.S.||3,311,000||2.9%|
|#5||Pueblo Viejo||🇩🇴 Dominican Republic||814,000||0.7%|
|#6||Kibali||🇨🇩 Democratic Republic of the Congo||812,000||0.7%|
|#8||Lihir||🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea||737,082||0.6%|
|#9||Canadian Malartic||🇨🇦 Canada||714,784||0.6%|
Share of global gold production is based on 3,561 tonnes (114.5 million troy ounces) of 2021 production as per the World Gold Council.
In 2019, the world’s two largest gold miners—Barrick Gold and Newmont Corporation—announced a historic joint venture combining their operations in Nevada. The resulting joint corporation, Nevada Gold Mines, is now the world’s largest gold mining complex with six mines churning out over 3.3 million ounces annually.
Uzbekistan’s state-owned Muruntau mine, one of the world’s deepest open-pit operations, produced just under 3 million ounces, making it the second-largest gold mine. Muruntau represents over 80% of Uzbekistan’s overall gold production.
Only two other mines—Grasberg and Olimpiada—produced more than 1 million ounces of gold in 2021. Grasberg is not only the third-largest gold mine but also one of the largest copper mines in the world. Olimpiada, owned by Russian gold mining giant Polyus, holds around 26 million ounces of gold reserves.
Polyus was also recently crowned the biggest miner in terms of gold reserves globally, holding over 104 million ounces of proven and probable gold between all deposits.
How Profitable is Gold Mining?
The price of gold is up by around 50% since 2016, and it’s hovering near the all-time high of $2,000/oz.
That’s good news for gold miners, who achieved record-high profit margins in 2020. For every ounce of gold produced in 2020, gold miners pocketed $828 on average, significantly higher than the previous high of $666/oz set in 2011.
With inflation rates hitting decade-highs in several countries, gold mining could be a sector to watch, especially given gold’s status as a traditional inflation hedge.
How to Avoid Common Mistakes With Mining Stocks (Part 5: Funding Strength)
A mining company’s past projects and funding strength are interlinked. This infographic outlines how a company’s ability to raise capital can determine the fate of a mining stock.
A mining company’s past projects and funding strength are interlinked, and can provide clues as to its potential success.
A good track record can provide better opportunities to raise capital, but the company must still ensure it times its financing with the market, protects its shareholders, and demonstrates value creation from the funding it receives.
Part 5: The Role of Funding Strength
We’ve partnered with Eclipse Gold Mining on an infographic series to show you how to avoid common mistakes when evaluating and investing in mining exploration stocks.
Part 5 of the series highlights six things to keep in mind when analyzing a company’s project history and funding ability.
View all five parts of the series:
- 1. Common mistakes made with the team
- 2. Common mistakes made with the business plan
- 3. Common mistakes with the jurisdiction of the project
- 4. Common mistakes with the project and technical risks
- 5. Common mistakes with raising money
Part 5: Raising Capital and Funding Strength
So what must investors evaluate when it comes to funding strength?
Here are six important areas to cover.
1. Past Project Success: Veteran vs. Recruit
A history of success in mining helps to attract capital from knowledgeable investors. Having an experienced team provides confidence and opens up opportunities to raise additional capital on more favorable terms.
- A team with past experience and success in similar projects
- A history of past projects creating value for shareholders
- A clear understanding of the building blocks of a successful project
A company with successful past projects instills confidence in investors and indicates the company knows how to make future projects successful, as well.
2. Well-balanced Financing: Shareholder Friendly vs. Banker Friendly
Companies need to balance between large investors and protecting retail shareholders. Management with skin in the game ensures they find a balance between serving the interests of both of these unique groups.
- Clear communication with shareholders regarding the company’s financing plans
- High levels of insider ownership ensures management has faith in the company’s direction, and is less likely to make decisions which hurt shareholders
- Share dilution is done in a limited capacity and only when it helps finance new projects that will create more value for shareholders
Mining companies need to find a balance between keeping their current shareholders happy while also offering attractive financing options to attract further investors.
3. A Liquid Stock: Hot Spot vs. Ghost Town
Lack of liquidity in a stock can be a major problem when it comes to attracting investment. It can limit investments from bigger players like funds and savvy investors. Investors prefer liquid stocks that are easily traded, as this allows them to capitalize on market trends.
- A liquid stock ensures shareholders are able to buy and sell shares at their expected price
- More liquid stocks often trade at better valuations than their illiquid counterparts
- High liquidity can help avoid price crashes during times of market instability
Liquidity makes all the difference when it comes to attracting investors and ensuring they’re comfortable holding a company’s stock.
4. Timing the Market: On Time vs. Too Late or Too Early
Raising capital at the wrong time can result in little interest from investors. Companies in tune with market cycles can raise capital to capture rising interest in the commodity they’re mining.
Being On Time:
- Raising capital near the start of a commodity’s bull market can attract interest from speculators looking to capitalize on price trends
- If timed well, the attention around a commodity can attract investors
- Well-timed financing will instill confidence in shareholders, who will be more likely to hold onto their stock
- Raising capital at the right time during bull markets is less expensive for the company and reduces risk for investors
Companies need to time when they raise capital in order to maximize the amount raised.
5. Where is the Money Going? Money Well Spent vs. Well Wasted
How a company spends its money plays a crucial role in whether the company is generating more value or just keeping the lights on. Investors should always try to determine if management is simply in it for a quick buck, or if they truly believe in their projects and the quality of the ore the company is mining.
Money Well Spent:
- Raised capital goes towards expanding projects and operations
- Efficient use of capital can increase revenue and keep shareholders happy with dividend hikes and share buybacks
- By showing tangible results from previous investments, a company can more easily raise capital in the future
Raised capital needs to be allocated wisely in order to support projects and generate value for shareholders.
6. Additional Capital: Back for More vs. Tapped Out
Mining is a capital intensive process, and unless the company has access to a treasure trove, funding is crucial to advancing any project. Companies that demonstrate consistency in their ability to create value at every stage will find it easier to raise capital when it’s necessary.
Back For More:
- Raise more capital when necessary to fund further development on a project
- Able to show the value they generated from previous funding when looking to raise capital a second time
- Attract future shareholders easily by treating current shareholders well
Every mining project requires numerous financings. However, if management proves they spend capital in a way that creates value, investors will likely offer more funding during difficult or unexpected times.
Wealth Creation and Funding Strength
Mining companies that develop significant assets can create massive amounts of wealth, but often the company will not see cash flow for years. This is why it is so important to have funding strength: an ability to raise capital and build value to harvest later.
It is a challenging process to build a mining company, but management that has the ability to treat their shareholders and raise money can see their dreams built.
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