All 24 Oscars 2020 Awards Nominee To Walk Away With $215,000 Gift Bag
On February 9, the Oscars will be awarded at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles and even the losers will go home with lavish consolation prizes.
While just four actors and one director will bring home the gold in the top individual categories, all 24 nominees still get a six-figure gift bag courtesy of Distinctive Assets, a celebrity and product placement marketing company.
This year’s Oscars swag is valued at $215,000, up nearly $70,000 from last year’s haul. In terms of pure value, the 24-carat-gold-plated statuette, the most-coveted honor in Hollywood, costs just $400 to make. The value of all 24 bags is $5.2 million—or nearly the domestic box office haul of one of last year’s bombs, The Goldfinch.
Though Distinctive Assets is not affiliated with the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences, which presents the Oscars, its lavish gift bags are an award season tradition. (In 2016, the Academy sued Distinctive Assets for trademark infringement, but they have since reached a settlement.)
All 25 nominees in the acting and directing categories typically get bags, but there is one fewer this year as Scarlett Johansson is nominated in both leading and supporting actress categories, for Marriage Story and Jojo Rabbit, respectively. She will only receive one bag. “Maybe I’ll reach out to see if [Johansson] wants to donate the second one,” says Distinct Assets founder Lash Fary.
Fary, nicknamed “the Sultan of Swag,” founded Distinctive Assets two decades ago as a private showroom for costume designers for television shows. In 2000, he started distributing branded gifts to celebrities backstage at the Grammys.Now Fary, 48, produces gift suites for nearly every top awards show, including the Tonys and American Music Awards, and he also works year-round on private events for entertainers and brands.
Over the past two decades, he notes, there is usually one nominee who doesn’t accept the Oscars gift bag. Last year, Glenn Close, nominated for The Wife, asked that hers be donated to a women’s charity in her name. So far, none of the 2020 nominees have turned down Distinctive Assets.
Even the phrase “gift bag” is something of a misnomer. There are so many items that they are delivered in multiple suitcases to nominees the week before the ceremony.
The brands are on the hook for the cost of all gift items, ranging from a box of cookies to plastic surgery to all-inclusive trips, in addition to a participation fee paid to Distinctive Assets. The cost starts at $4,000 and soars to $50,000 for “presenting sponsors”—a significant amount, to be sure, but a rounding error compared to the reported $2 million-plus price tag for a 30-second commercial during the Oscars telecast. After all, if just one of the recipients is seen using a gift, it’s well worth the price of admission for most brands.
For example, Viola Davis, who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Fences in 2017, took a Kauai vacation at Koloa Landing Resort that was provided by Distinctive Assets, and tweeted about it. Mark Ruffalo, nominated for Foxcatcher in 2015, posted on Instagram about his stay at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria in Italy, another Distinctive Assets sponsor. Amy Adams, nominated for American Hustle in 2013, was photographed that year wearing a gifted t-shirt while going to the gym.
As for what’s in the bag this year, the selections include such physical gifts as Hfactor “hydrogen-infused” water ($29.99 a pouch), Hotsy Totsy Haus amethyst bath bombs ($75) and a brainwave-sensing meditation headband by Muse ($250).The nominees also receive vouchers to redeem the big-ticket items, such as a 12-day cruise on the Scenic Eclipse, a yacht for 220 guests with butler service, two helicopters and a spa. (Dame Helen Mirren is actually the “godmother” of the Scenic Eclipse). The expedition, provided by Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, is valued at $78,190; it is the most extravagant gift in Distinctive Assets’ history. Destinations include Antarctica and the Mediterranean. For intrepid guests, there is also a trip on a submarine capable of diving 1,000 feet.
Among the other gifts are a romantic getaway in a Spanish lighthouse converted into a luxury hotel ($1,300 to $1,800 a night), a year’s membership with Drawing Down the Moon Matchmaking ($20,000) and up to $25,000 worth of cosmetic treatments and rejuvenation procedures such as lip fillers and chemical peels from Manhattan doctor Konstantin Vasyukevich. The cheapest item is a two-pack of dark chocolate Milanos, which cost $4.89 for a set of 10. “Sometimes it’s the little things that people like most, not the most expensive thing in the gift bag,” says Fary.
Of course, sometimes those little things can be downright unusual. Among the odder gifts that nominees will receive this year are the Peezy Midstream, a medical urine collection system that claims to improve the accuracy of testing for infections. There is also a smart bra from Soma that measures a woman for the perfect fit.
In recent years, the Oscars gift bag also has made headlines for its cannabis gifts. This year, nominees can unwind with chocolate edibles by Coda Signature and make CBD drinks with simple syrup by CBD Barkeep and hemp balm mixed with CBD oil and essential oils by SHEbd. There is also a $150 gold-plated vape pen from Hollowtips, sure to be enjoyed by lead actor nominee Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), who famously vaped at the Screen Actors Guild awards in 2016. “Leo was our inspiration,” Fary says. “I’m sure if he wants it upgraded to full gold, Hollowtips would be happy to do it for him.”
Not that the celebrities need the free free swag. “[People ask] why are we giving rich people things they could afford and it’s so not about being able to afford it,” Fary explains. “You know, Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t need $20 million per film, but she earned that because of her marquee name.”
And this year’s nominees are particularly wealthy. Three of the best actress nominees made Forbes’ list of the highest-paid actresses in 2019. Scarlett Johansson ranked first with $56 million in earnings before taxes and fees, while Margot Robbie and Charlize Theron, both nominated for their work in Bombshell, also made the list with earnings of $23.5 million and $23 million, respectively.
None of the men nominated for best actor made Forbes’ 2019 ranking. Had Adam Sandler not been snubbed by the Academy for his work in Uncut Gems, he would be the highest-paid Oscar-nominated actor this year, earning $57 million in 2019.