Sale of long-lost ‘Wizard of Oz’ dress suspended by judge


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Judy Garland’s iconic blue and white gingham dress from ‘Wizard of Oz’ was set to go up for auction before the sale was blocked by a U.S. District Judge on Monday after a Wisconsin woman filed a lawsuit claiming that she was the rightful owner of the dress.

The dress originally had a pre-sale estimate of $800,000 to $1.2 million, set by auctioneer Bonhams. It was offered for sale in Los Angeles by the Catholic University of America in an auction specifically for Hollywood memorabilia. The dress had been rediscovered in a shoebox by a college professor and operations manager after it had been believed lost for decades, according to The New York Times.

U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe granted a motion for a preliminary injunction on Monday after hearing about the lawsuit in which ownership of the dress was questioned.

Barbara Ann Hartke, 81, of Wisconsin, filed a lawsuit last month claiming the dress belonged to her, arguing that it had been given to her late relative, father Gilbert Hartke in 1973 by actress Mercedes McCambridge.

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Hartke’s lawsuit states that the university “has no ownership interest in the robe because … there is no documentation to show that the deceased ever formally or informally donated the robe to the Catholic University. “.

Gilbert Hartke was previously chairman of the university’s drama department before his death in 1986. The university responded in a filing opposing Hartke’s lawsuit, arguing that Gilbert could not accept gifts as a priest Dominican. Therefore, the dress could not be considered part of any real estate.

The gingham dress worn by Judy Garland in the “Wizard of Oz” is on display, April 25, 2022, at Bonhams in New York.
(AP Photo/Katie Vasquez)

“The court’s decision to preserve the status quo was preliminary and did not address the merits of Barbara Hartke’s claim to the dress,” the university said in a statement. “We look forward to presenting our position and the overwhelming evidence contradicting Ms. Hartke’s assertion in court in this litigation.”

The attorney is scheduled to appear in court on June 9, according to the New York Times.

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The university said proceeds from the sale of the dress were to be donated to the university’s college of arts to “staff a professorship at the Rome School of Music, Drama and Art,” according to their statement.

Bonhams said they had no comment at this time.

Fox News contacted Hartke’s attorney, Anthony Scordo III, but did not immediately respond.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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