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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), as he watches. Ray Bolger (1904-1987) is watching Ray Haley (1998-1879) (as Scarecrow), 1939. Victor Fleming directed the film.

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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 hearing was scheduled for May 23rd in U.S District Court. This is one day before Bonham’s auction houses are currently set to auction the gown on behalf of The Catholic University of America.

The order by Judge Paul Gardephe of scheduling the court sessions was issued after Barbara Hartke (a Wisconsin resident) asked for an injunction to prevent the sale of the gown until the case could be settled.

Hartke, aged 81, asserts in her suit, that the dress belongs to her uncle, The Rev. Gilbert Hartke founded Catholic University’s drama school.

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

On Monday, April 25th, 2022 Bonhams New York will display a blue-and-white checked gingham gown, which Judy Garland wore in “Wizard of Oz.”

Katie Vasquez | AP

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

According to the university, Gilbert Harkte was prohibited from receiving gifts because of his vow of poverty as Roman Catholic priest.

“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.

Other dress: auctioned in 2015 by Bonham’s for more than $1.5 million.

Gilbert Hartke had the gown after McCambridge, in gratitude for his help with her battle against alcoholism, gave it to Catholic University.

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 immediately reply to emails.

Barbara Hartke’s lawyer, Bonham’s, did not respond immediately to requests for comment.