The second-ever full costume worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz was discovered last month in a shoebox at a university’s drama department, bringing joy to fashion historians, pop culture fans, and cinephiles alike.
Though there are five versions of Dorothy’s iconic blue and white pinafore dress, the newly discovered costume is only the second of two outfits complete with the matching blouse.
Barbara Hartke, who filed the lawsuit in New York on Tuesday, claims the dress belongs to her because it was given to her uncle, Rev. Gilbert Hartke, whose estate she owns.
Mercedes McCambridge, an Academy Award-winning actress and Garland friend, gave the costume to Gilbert Hartke. McCambridge is best known for her roles in The Exorcist and All the King’s Men, both of which earned her an Academy Award nomination.
McCambridge was an artist-in-residence at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where Gilbert Hartke founded the drama department.
Barbara Hartke’s legal team claims in the lawsuit that the university has no right to auction off the costume because McCambridge “specifically and publicly” gave it to her uncle. As a result, the suit claims, the piece of Hollywood history is “an asset of the decedent’s estate.”
Hartke claims that no one approached the estate about auctioning off the costume. According to court documents, her legal team is now pursuing a temporary restraining order or an injunction to prevent the sale.
According to Forbes, the Catholic University is reviewing the allegations in the lawsuit and will provide additional information “after a thorough review of the complaint.”
“The dress worn by Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale throughout the scene set in the Witch’s Castle, when the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) has captured Dorothy and threatens her with death,” according to Bonhams.
A label inside the dress that read JUDY GARLAND 4223 (along with other details like stitching, clasps, and a hidden pocket) proved the costume’s authenticity.
Bonhams has yet to respond publicly to the costume auction.