Judge blocks auction of 'Wizard of Oz' dress by Catholic University

A blue and white checked gingham dress, worn by Judy Garland within the “Wizard of Oz,” hangs on show, Monday, April 25, 2022, at Bonhams in New York.

Katie Vasquez | AP

A federal choose in New York blocked Tuesday’s scheduled auction of a dress worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” that had been anticipated to fetch as much as $1 million or extra for The Catholic University of America.

Monday’s injunction barring a sale of the dress by Bonhams auction home in Los Angeles got here greater than two weeks after a Wisconsin lady, Barbara Hartke, sued to cease the sale, claiming it belonged to the property of her late uncle, the Rev. Gilbert Hartke. The lawsuit will proceed in Manhattan federal court docket.

Judge Paul Gardephe ordered Catholic University, which is situated in Washington, D.C., and Bonhams to not promote the dress till the lawsuit is resolved.

Anthony Scordo, the legal professional for Barbara Hartke, in an electronic mail to CNBC stated, “I am pleased with the ruling preventing the sale. I feel the judge carefully reviewed the submissions of all parties and came to a fair result.”

In its assertion, Catholic University stated, “The Court’s decision to preserve the status quo was preliminary and did not get to the merits of Barbara Hartke’s claim to the dress. We look forward to presenting our position, and the overwhelming evidence contradicting Ms. Hartke’s claim, to the Court in the course of this litigation.”

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Hartke acquired the “Oz” dress in 1973 as a present from Academy Award-winning actress Mercedes McCambridge whereas serving as head of Catholic University’s drama faculty, which he based. It shouldn’t be identified how MacCambridge obtained the costume from the traditional 1939 movie.

As an inheritor to the priest, Barbara Hartke stands to inherit a fraction of the possession to the dress if she prevails in her lawsuit to show that it belongs to her late uncle’s property.

The dress had been lacking for many years earlier than it was present in a trash bag in a room on the drama faculty final yr. Catholic University then moved to place it up for auction, producing widespread media protection final month.

The college argues that it’s the authorized proprietor of the dress, as a result of Hartke, as a Roman Catholic priest, had taken a vow of poverty and that the dress was meant to profit the college.

The faculty additionally submitted affidavits from a grandnephew 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 stated that they and different descendants of the priest supported the auction of the dress with the understanding that it was given as a present for the college.

In its assertion, Catholic University stated that “it continues to be committed to its plan to use proceeds from a sale of the dress to endow a faculty position in the Rome School of Music, Drama and Art, which it believes is in line with Mercedes McCambridge’s original intent and Father Gilbert Hartke’s desire to support and grow the University’s drama program.”

The dress is one of solely two clothes identified to nonetheless exist of the a number of created for Garland to put on in “The Wizard of Oz.”

The different dress was auctioned in 2015 by Bonhams for more than $1.5 million.