Fifteen Oscar statuettes were auctioned for more than $3 million to three individuals in a sale conducted online.

The collection comprising the largest ever of Oscar statuettes were sold just days after the current year's Academy Awards show. Of the lot sold, Herman Mankiewicz's statuette which he won for the best screen-play for co-writing the 1941 film Citizen Kane was the highest-selling statuette and was sold for $588,455.

The auction was controversial as there was an official protest by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organizes the Oscars. The auctioneers, however, continued with the sale.

In addition to Herman Mankiewicz's statuette, other top lots of the event included the 1931 best picture award for Skippy which is the oldest statuette in the collection and fetched the third highest total. An Oscar for the 1933 best picture award for the drama Cavalcade, fetched $332,165, while another given to Charles Coburn in 1943 for best supporting actor in The More the Merrier went for $170,459.

The statuettes were reportedly awarded during the period 1930s-1940s when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did not ask the winners to sign a contract promising that they and their heirs would not sell the trophy without first offering to sell it back to the Academy for $1.

The Academy, its members and the many film artists and craftspeople who've won Academy Awards believe strongly that Oscars should be won, not purchased. Unfortunately, because our winners agreement wasn't instituted until 1950, we don't have any legal means of stopping the commoditization of these particular statuettes, LA Times quoted the Academy spokesperson as saying.