Judge blocks sale of classic ‘Wizard of Oz’ costume at auction

The dress worn by Judy Garland was expected to fetch $800,000 to $1.2million at auction

A judge in the US has blocked the sale of a classic Wizard of Oz costume that was due to take place at an auction earlier this week (May 23).

One of the blue-and-white checked gingham dresses that Judy Garland wore for her role as Dorothy in the film was schedule to be auctioned as part of a collection of Hollywood memorabilia in Los Angeles last Tuesday (May 24).

The item was put up for auction by the Catholic University of America after being rediscovered in a shoebox last year at the school.


The auctioneers, Bonhams, had listed a pre-auction estimate of $800,000 to $1.2million (£633,000-£792,000) on the item before it was withdrawn.

As reported in The GuardianUS district judge Paul Gardephe in Manhattan “granted a motion for a preliminary injunction” after a lawsuit was filed by a relative of Father Gilbert Hartke, a priest who worked at the school and was given the dress in 1973.

Hartke died in 1986 but his a niece, Barbara Ann Hartke, 81, filed a lawsuit against the school and auctioneer earlier this month after seeing news of the item in the media.

She claims the dress was given to him as a personal gift by the actor Mercedes McCambridge.

The lawsuit claims the organisation “has no ownership interest in the dress as …there is no documentation demonstrating decedent ever formally or informally donated the dress to Catholic University”.

The school’s attorneys have claimed however that as a priest, Hartke had taken a vow “to never accept gifts in his personal capacity”.


In a statement, lawyers for the Catholic University school said: “We look forward to presenting our position, and the overwhelming evidence contradicting Ms Hartke’s claim, to the court in the course of this litigation.”

NME has reached out to Bonhams for comment.

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