Selznick raised the initial funding of US$400,000 in Los Angeles, with half of that amount coming from his brother Myron Selznick, a Hollywood agent, and the other half from MGM production chief Irving Thalberg and his wife actress Norma Shearer. He raised an additional $300,000 from "small" investors in New York, and then the final $2.4 million from Jock Whitney and his family. Whitney himself became chairman of the board, and Selznick president, of the new company.
Because Whitney and his cousin Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney also owned Pioneer Pictures, an independent studio they formed in 1933, that company was informally merged with Selznick International Pictures in 1936, which assumed Pioneer's contract to make at least six pictures in the new full-color Technicolor process, of which the Whitneys owned a 15 percent share.
Although Selznick foresaw a production schedule of six to eight features per year, the studio in fact made only two or three per year, due to Selznick's meticulous attention to detail and protracted writing and editing processes. But in its short life of five years and eleven features, Selznick International Pictures produced two winners of the Academy Award for Best Picture: Gone with the Wind (1939) and Rebecca (1940), and a third nominee, A Star Is Born (1937).
By 1940, Selznick International Pictures was the top-grossing film studio in Hollywood, but without a major studio set-up in which to re-invest his profits, Selznick faced enormous tax problems. That year, to draw down their profits as capital gains, he and the other owners made an agreement with the Internal Revenue Service to liquidate Selznick International within three years, which they did by dividing and selling to each other the company's assets. Jock Whitney and his sister Joan Whitney Payson acquired Gone with the Wind, which they resold at a substantial profit to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1944.
To complete his obligation to deliver two more pictures to United Artists, Selznick formed David O. Selznick Productions in 1940 at the same studio location. The new company also took over the old company's contracts with individual directors and actors.
David O. Selznick retained ownership of The Garden of Allah, The Prisoner of Zenda, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Intermezzo, and Rebecca after the liquidation of Selznick International Pictures. The copyrights to A Star Is Born, Nothing Sacred, and Made for Each Other are now in the public domain, while most of the rest are now owned by ABC (via Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, with the DVD rights currently licensed to MGM). The notable exception is Gone with the Wind, whose ownership was transferred to MGM in 1944 (and subsequently acquired by Warner Bros. (via its Turner Entertainment division).