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Judy Garland’s iconic blue-and-white gingham dress from the “Wizard of Oz” was expected to sell at auction before the sale was blocked by a U.S. district judge Monday after a Wisconsin woman filed a lawsuit claiming she was the rightful owner of the dress.
The dress originally had a presale estimate of $800,000 to $1.2 million, set by auctioneer Bonhams. It was put up for sale in Los Angeles by the Catholic University of America as part of an auction specifically for Hollywood memorabilia. The dress had been rediscovered in a shoebox by a university lecturer and operations manager after having been assumed lost for decades, according to the New York Times.
U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe granted a motion for a preliminary injunction Monday after hearing about the lawsuit wherein the ownership of the dress was brought into question.
Barbara Ann Hartke, 81, from Wisconsin, filed a lawsuit last month claiming the dress belonged to her, arguing that it was gifted to her late relative Father Gilbert Hartke in 1973 by actress Mercedes McCambridge.
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Hartke’s lawsuit states the university “has no ownership interest in the dress as … there is no documentation demonstrating decedent ever formally or informally donated the dress to 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 Dominican priest. Therefore, the dress could not be considered a part of any real estate.
“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,” said the university in a statement. “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.”
Counsel is expected to appear in court on June 9, according to the New York Times.
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The university has stated that the earnings from the dress’s sale are to go toward the university’s arts college to “endow a faculty position in the Rome School of Music, Drama and Art,” per their statement.
Bonhams stated they have no comment at this time.
Fox News reached out to Hartke’s attorney, Anthony Scordo III, but did not immediately hear back.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.