The judge stops the auction of the gown of the “Wizard of Oz” of the Catholic University

A blue and white checkered dress, worn by Judy Garland in “Wizard of Oz”, is on display on Monday April 25, 2022 at Bonhams in New York.

Katie Vasquez | AP

A New York federal judge blocked Tuesday’s scheduled auction a dress worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” which should have raised up to $ 1 million or more for the Catholic University of America.

Monday injunction prohibiting the sale of the dress Bonhams’s Los Angeles auction house 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 Reverend Gilbert Hartke.

Barbara Hartke’s lawsuit will now proceed before the federal court in Manhattan.

Judge Paul Gardephe has ordered Catholic U., located in Washington, DC, and Bonhams not to sell the dress until the lawsuit is resolved.

Anthony Scordo, Barbara Hartke’s attorney, said in an email to CNBC: “I am satisfied with the ruling preventing the sale.”

“I feel that the judge has carefully examined the submissions of all parties and has achieved a fair result,” said Scordo.

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Hartke received the “Oz” dress in 1973 as a gift from Academy Award-winning actress Mercedes McCambridge while serving as the head of Catholic U.’s acting school, which he founded. It is unknown how MacCambridge got the costume from the classic 1939 film.

As the priest’s heir, Barbara Hartke will inherit a fraction of the property if she prevails in her lawsuit.

The dress had been missing for decades before being found in a garbage bag in an acting school room last year. Catholic U then moved to put it up for auction, generating extensive media coverage last month.

Catholic U. claims to be 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 for the benefit of the school.

The school also filed affidavits from a Hartke’s great-grandson who recalled that “my great-uncle Father Gilbert Hartke told me I couldn’t have it since the dress belonged to the Catholic University.”

That man, Thomas Kuipers, with a cousin said that they and other descendants of the priest supported the auction of the dress with the knowledge that it was given as a gift for the school.

The dress is one of only two known extant dresses of the many created for Garland to wear in “The Wizard of Oz”.

The other dress was auctioned in 2015 by Bonhams for over $ 1.5 million.