In the likely event that Heath Ledger is named Best Supporting Actor, his Oscar statue will become the property of the late star’s three-year-old daughter Matilda, officials said.
However, the trophy will not legally be handed over until she turns 18 – and only then if she signs a contract which prevents her from selling it on the open market.
A dozen members of Ledger’s family, including his mother, father and sister Kate, are in Los Angeles, where they expect him to justify odds of 25/1 to win the trophy posthumously for his role as the Joker in the Batman film The Dark Knight.
However, the event’s organisers have refused to say which – if any – of Ledger’s relatives will be asked to accept the trophy if he wins. Academy tradition allows either family members or close colleagues to collect a deceased actor’s award.
The ownership of the statue potentially presents an issue of protocol. Normally, it would go to the deceased actor’s spouse. However, the Australian actor was estranged from the actress Michelle Williams, Matilda’s mother, at the time of his accidental prescription-drug overdose.
Bruce Davis, the executive director of the Academy, said: “The statuette will be held in trust for Ledger’s daughter by her mother until Matilda reaches the age of 18. At that point, she may execute what we call an heir’s agreement and keep the statuette forever or, if she chooses not to do that, it will return to us.”Reuse content