LOS ANGELES – After going missing in the 1980s, a Judy Garland-worn “Dorothy” dress from The Wizard of Oz could be worth more than $1.2 million as it heads to auction at "Bonhams Classic Hollywood: Film and Television" sale May 24.
The blue and white gingham dress has been matched to a specific scene in the beloved movie, when the ghastly green Wicked Witch of the West frightens Dorothy by threatening to hurt her dog Toto if she doesn’t hand over her ruby-red slippers. The Wizard of Oz was one of the first movies filmed in Technicolor, making the 1939 film vividly memorable.
The dress is offered by The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. In 1973, it was given to the Rev. Gilbert Hartke, head of the university’s Drama Department, by Mercedes McCambridge, a Hollywood actress and Artist in Residence at the university.
“The dress was a legend, but no one had seen it since the late 1980s,” Jacqueline Leary-Warsaw, Dean of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art at the university, told The New York Times.
The dress was discovered in July of 2021 during remodeling preparations, tucked away in a shoe box inside a paper bag atop mailboxes. Proceeds from the sale have been earmarked to benefit the school's Drama Department.
“Discovering this historic dress was a memorable moment for The Catholic University of America and we are proud to present it for auction, so that the next collector can own a piece of history,” said Leary-Warsaw. “While parting with this dress is bittersweet, the proceeds are going to help support future generations training for professional careers in theatre.
Helen Hall, Director of Popular Culture at Bonhams in Los Angeles, said, “Important costumes from this iconic movie rarely appear on the auction market and to be able to pinpoint the scene in which this was worn by Judy Garland is thrilling.”
During the movie, Garland wore several versions of the dress, but only one other is known to exist. That dress sold for $480,000 in 2012 at Julien’s Auctions. Three years later, Bonhams sold the same dress for nearly $1.6 million. Bonhams has also sold the original Cowardly Lion costume from the movie worn by actor Bert Lahr for $3.1 million in 2014.
The Judy Garland "Dorothy" Dress will be on view at Bonhams New York (580 Madison Ave) from April 23-29 and at Bonhams Los Angeles (7601 Sunset Blvd) from May 20-24, with the final sale taking place on May 24.