Many people dream of mingling with the stars at the annual Oscar Awards ceremony in Hollywood, but at what price? Now, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is suing two ticket brokers for trying to make those dreams come true for people who could pay as much as $85,000 for an unauthorized ticket to the Oscars last month.
The Academy filed suit in Los Angles Superior Court last week against Red Baron Records and Millionaire’s Concierge Inc., two companies they allege sold Oscar tickets without authorization. A ticket to the Academy Awards Ceremony is a coveted commodity granted only to members of the innermost Hollywood circle. The suit seeks an unspecified amount in damages.
Academy officials are seeking to recover damages for “trespass, breach of contract, and inducement to breach contract committed at or in connection with” the 80th annual awards ceremony conducted February 24, 2008, “and to recover the monetary benefit unjustly retained by the defendants, who were unjustly enriched at the Academy’s expense.” In addition, the Academy seeks injunctive relief to prevent similar unauthorized acts in the future.
Attempts to reach Millionaire’s Concierge and Red Baron Records were unsuccessful.
The lawsuit details a “sting” operation the film organization set up to catch the unauthorized sellers, and at points the lawsuit almost reads something like a script for a film itself:
“On or about November 10, 2007, the Academy was informed that an Australian company called World Wide Ticketing, Ltd. (“Worldwide Ticketing”), advertised that it had four tickets to the 2008 Academy Awards® ceremony, two of which had already been sold. The Academy, through an investigator, contacted Worldwide Ticketing, which purported to act as a broker for clients desiring tickets to the Academy Awards® ceremony.
“Worldwide Ticketing stated in an e-mail message sent to the investigator on or about November 19, 2007, that they had tickets to the Academy Awards® available. From an employee of Worldwide Ticketing, the Academy’s investigator learned that defendant Red Baron Records was the source of the tickets. The investigator learned that Red Baron Records offered for sale five (5) tickets to the 2008 Academy Awards® ceremony. Worldwide Ticketing claimed to receive the tickets for sale in late October 2007. Red Baron Records, through Worldwide Ticketing, offered to sell tickets to the Academy Awards® ceremony for $85,000 per ticket.”
Another email correspondence illustrates how the Academy investigator was able to purchase two tickets to the Oscars from Florida-based Millionaire’s Concierge for $23,000 apiece, according to published reports. Two additional people made it into the Oscars with tickets purchased on Craig’s List for the relative bargain price of $2,500 apiece.
“…[S]ecurity experts have advised … that the public sale of such tickets poses an unacceptable risk,” the suit stated. “For security reasons, the Academy must know who is in the house during its awards ceremony. As one of the most televised and glamorous events in the world, the ceremony is a potential target for terrorists, celebrity stalkers, and anyone seeking to gain attention for a cause.”
The Academy provides tickets to Academy members “pursuant to an express contract” providing that such tickets may not be transferred. Invited guests are reminded that the Oscar presentation is a private invitation-only function.
(The image accompanying this story is from Current.com)