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Auction of Judy Garland Wizard of Oz dress in jeopardy, set for court hearing


An old lobby card for the movie ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ depicts a still from a scene where Judy Garland (American actress, 1922-1969) tears up at Bert Lahr (1895-1867) (as Cowardly Lion) while being watched by Jack Haley (1898-1879) and Ray Bolger (1904-1987) (as Scarecrow), 1939. Victor Fleming was the director.

Hulton Archive | Moviepix | Getty Images

The auction of the long-lost gown worn by Judy Garland’s “The Wizard of Oz”, is now in danger. A federal judge ordered Monday a hearing to determine why he shouldn’t block it from being sold. the outcome of a lawsuit over its ownership.

The Manhattan U.S. District Court hearing took place on May 23, just one day before Bonham’s auction house was due to sell the dress for The Catholic University of America.

After Barbara Hartke, a Wisconsin resident’s lawyer asked Judge Paul Gardephe to schedule the court session, he ordered the sale of the dress to be stopped until the suit could be resolved.

Hartke (81), claims that her suit is legal property of her uncle, the Rev. Gilbert Hartke was the founder of Catholic University’s drama program.

Barbara Hartke could, if the suit is won, be an heir to the gown.

An original blue and white gingham dress worn by Judy Garland as the Wizard of Oz is on display at Bonhams, New York, Monday April 25, 2022.

Katie Vasquez | AP

However, the university in Washington, D.C. has said it is the “rightful owner”Hartke received the gown in 1973 from Academy Award-winning actress Mercedes McCambridge.

According to university officials, Gilbert Harkte had broken his vow as a Roman Catholic priest of poverty and was forbidden from accepting gifts as personal property.

“Fr. Hartke’s estate doesn’t have any property interests in it,” said the school in a statement dated May 6.

This blue-and white gingham gown is just one of six that were made to Garland for him to wear in the “Oz” movie. Bonhams estimated that the dress would sell anywhere from $800,000 to $1.2 million.

Another dress was auctioned in 2015 by Bonham’s for more than $1.5 million.

Gilbert Hartke was the proud owner of this dress after McCambridge gifted it to her in gratitude for his help with her battle against alcoholism.

However, the gown was lost for over a century until it was discovered in a bag just above the Hartke Theater faculty mail slots last June.

CNBC requested comment from Catholic University’s spokesperson Monday. She referred CNBC’s request to them for information on the temporary blockade against the sale to lawyers at the school. They did not respond to our emails immediately.

Barbara Hartke and Bonhams’ lawyers did not immediately reply to our requests for comment.