The judge suspended the sale of the long-lost Wizard of Oz dress. Entertainment

NEW YORK – On Monday, the dramatic story of the cult film costume from The Wizard of Oz, which was thought lost for decades, took another turn when a judge blocked its planned sale at auction.

One of the blue and white plaid dresses that Judy Garland wore in 1939 for the role of Dorothy was to be part of the auction Hollywood memorabilia in Los Angeles on Tuesday put up for sale by the Catholic University of America. The dress was found again at the school last year in a shoebox in preparation for repairs.

Auctioneer Bonhams listed a pre-sale estimate of $ 800,000 to $ 1.2 million per dress before it was recalled.

But U.S. District Judge Paul Gardef in Manhattan granted a motion for a preliminary ban after a hearing on a lawsuit filed by a relative of Father Gilbert Hartke, who worked at the university and received a dress in 1973.

Hartke died in 1986; 81-year-old niece Barbara Ann Hartke filed a lawsuit against the school and the auctioneer earlier this month after media reports said the dress was up for auction.

In her lawsuit, she said the dress belonged to her as her uncle’s closest living relative. She says it was given as a personal gift by actress Mercedes McCambridge.

According to her lawsuit, the university “does not own the dress, because … there are no documents that would confirm that the deceased ever officially or unofficially donated the dress to the Catholic University.”

In a statement against the lawsuit, the school’s attorneys said that as a Dominican priest, Hartke had vowed “never to accept gifts in his personal capacity” and therefore the dress could not be considered part of any estate.

Representatives of the Catholic University said the dress disappeared decades after it was given to Gartke, then head of the drama department.

Garland wore several dress options during the filming; Auctioneer Bonems said that found at the Catholic University was one of two who still had a blouse, and that Garland wore it to the scene in the Castle of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Bonems had no comment.

In a statement, university attorneys said: “We look forward to presenting our position and overwhelming evidence that contradicts Ms. Hartke’s demands during this trial.”

A letter was sent to Hartke’s lawyer asking him to comment.

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