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Whoopi Goldberg’s Oscar Stolen

February 6, 2002

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LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Oscar host Whoopi Goldberg’s Academy Award was stolen after it was sent out for cleaning, but was recovered Tuesday, the academy said.

Goldberg, who won the supporting-actress Oscar for ``Ghost″ in 1990, had returned it to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which sent it to the manufacturer for cleaning and replating.

The academy packed up the Oscar and shipped it Friday by United Parcel Service, but the box was empty when it arrived Tuesday at R.S. Owens Co. of Chicago, the company that makes the statues. The academy said in a statement that it was stolen from a UPS shipping container.

Someone apparently opened the package, removed the Oscar, then resealed the box, said Brad Cafarelli, Goldberg’s spokesman.

Cafarelli UPS officials told him a security guard at the Ontario, Calif., airport found the Oscar in a trash bin.

UPS spokeswoman Robin Roberts confirmed the recovery, but didn’t know if the Oscar was found in the trash. She declined to provide further details, saying the case remained under investigation.

Oscar statues are numbered, and this one was also inscribed with Goldberg’s name, making it particularly difficult for a thief to sell, said academy spokesman John Pavlik.

``I don’t know how in the world they would ever fence the darn thing,″ he said.

UPS returned the Oscar to the academy, which planned to send it back to Goldberg, who has discarded plans to have it cleaned.

``Oscar will never leave my house again,″ she said in a statement.

Two years ago, 55 new Oscar statues en route to the academy were stolen from a delivery facility in Bell, Calif. All but three were later found next to a trash bin in Los Angeles.

Three men pleaded no contest and were sentenced to jail time or probation for the theft.

The academy, which routinely sends Oscar winners’ statues by UPS for maintenance work, will review its shipping procedures, Pavlik said.

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