Judge Blocks Sale of Dorothy’s ‘Wizard of Oz’ Dress

Judge Blocks Sale of Dorothy’s ‘Wizard of Oz’ Dress

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In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy was able to go home to Kansas simply by tapping together the heels of her ruby slippers three times and repeating “there’s no place like home.”

It appears the long-lost dress worn by Dorothy in that classic 1939 film is in for a far more complicated journey home.

Margaret Hamilton (1902 – 1985) as the Wicked Witch of the West and Judy Garland (1922-1969) as Dorothy Gale in the blue and white gingham dress now entangled in a legal battle.

Just prior to the much-anticipated sale of the Judy Garland-worn “Dorothy” dress at Bonham’s Tuesday, May 23, a judge put a halt to the proceedings. Pre-auction estimates for the blue and white gingham dress offered by Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., were as high as $1.2 million.

But U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe in Manhattan squelched the sale of the famous costume at the Hollywood memorabilia event in Los Angeles when he granted a motion for a preliminary injunction during a hearing in a lawsuit brought forward by the family connected to the dress.

Dorothy's Wizard of Oz dress

The Rev. Gilbert Hartke in 1973 with Dorothy’s dress from ‘The Wizard of Oz.’

In 1973, the dress was given to the Rev. Gilbert Hartke, head of Catholic University’s Drama Department, by actress Mercedes McCambridge, an Artist in Residence at the university at the time and a personal fried of Judy Garland. The dress remained at the university ever since. Hartke died in 1986 and the dress went missing in the late 1980s, only to be discovered in July of 2021 during remodeling preparations at the university, tucked away in a shoe box inside a bag atop mailboxes.

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