Follow That Envelope! What Happens to the Cards That Reveal the Oscar Winners?

Gold statuettes may be the Oscars’ ultimate status symbol, but what of the envelopes that reveal the big winners? Three sets of cards, designed by Marc Friedland since 2011, are produced for each category — two of which are taken to the venue. Winners are allowed to keep their cards and envelopes. Those that are left behind, as well as extras, are recycled. But Friedland’s envelopes are meant to be keepsakes.

Catherine Zeta-Jones shared that she keeps her winning envelope for Chicago on the mantel in her home office, framed next to her statuette. Francis Ford Coppola says his winning envelopes and statues are on display at his Sonoma County winery. And Steven Spielberg keeps his three winning envelopes framed in his Amblin Entertainment office. Christopher Lord and Phil Miller gifted their envelope for 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to their publicist, Rachael Reiss.

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Unlike the statuettes — winners cannot sell or dispose of a statuette without first offering it to the Academy for $1 — there are no rules on what can be done with the envelopes, so they do occasionally come on the market. Julien’s Auctions recently sold a group of Academy Award programs and two winner envelopes (Gregory Peck’s best actor card for To Kill a Mockingbird and 1964’s card for best original song, “Call Me Irresponsible,” from Papa’s Delicate Condition) for $1,000, as well as the original card and envelope for the best picture winner in 1958, The Bridge on the River Kwai for $2,925. And if that sounds steep, a $25 admission fee buys access to Lupita Nyong’o’s 2014 best supporting actress envelope. It’s on display at the Academy Museum through Jan. 5, 2025.

This story first appeared in the March 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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