Judge blocks auction of ‘Wizard of Oz’ dress by Catholic University

A blue and white checked gingham dress, worn by Judy Garland in the “Wizard of Oz,” hangs on display, Monday, April 25, 2022, at Bonhams in New York.Katie Vasquez | APA federal judge in New York blocked Tuesday’s scheduled auction of a dress worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” that had been expected to fetch up to $1 million or more for The Catholic University of America.Monday’s injunction barring a sale of the dress by Bonhams auction house in Los Angeles came more than two weeks after a Wisconsin woman sued to stop the sale, claiming it belonged to the estate of her late uncle, the Rev. Gilbert Hartke.Her lawsuit, which contests ownership of the dress seen in the classic 1939 film, now will proceed in Manhattan federal court.Judge Paul Gardephe ordered Catholic U., which is located in Washington, D.C., and Bonhams not to sell the dress until the lawsuit is resolved.CNBC PoliticsRead more of CNBC’s politics coverage:Hartke received the “Oz” dress in 1973 as a gift from Academy Award-winning actress Mercedes McCambridge while serving as head of Catholic U.’s drama school, which he founded.As an heir to the priest, his niece Barbara Hartke stands to inherit a fraction of the dress, at the least, if she prevails in her lawsuit.The dress had been missing for decades before it was found in a trash bag in a room at the drama school last year.Catholic U. argues that it is the legal owner of the dress, because Hartke, as a Roman Catholic priest, had taken a vow of poverty and that the dress was intended to benefit the school.The school also submitted affidavits from a grand-nephew of Hartke who remembered that “my grand-uncle Father Gilbert Hartke said to me that I could not have it as the dress belonged to Catholic University.” That man, Thomas Kuipers, with a cousin said they and other descendants of the priest supported the auction of the dress with the understanding that it was given as a gift for the school.The dress is one of only two dresses known to still exist of the several created for Garland to wear in “The Wizard of Oz.”The other dress was auctioned in 2015 by Bonhams for more than $1.5 million.   

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