The dress was forgotten about for years.
Back in the summer of 2021 a rare dress worn by Judy Garland as the main character of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz was discovered in the archives of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. The faded (but oh so familiar) blue gingham costume was found during remodeling efforts, but the dress had been largely forgotten about since the late 1980s. A retiring staff member found the dress but it was lost again upon his departure. Finally after having been a legend at the school, the dress has been authenticated and will be coming up for auction.
The dress will be sold through Bonhams, a London-based firm, as part of the Classic Hollywood: Film and Television in Los Angeles on May 24th, 2022. The profits from the sale will go back to the school’s drama department.
The dress in question features a numbered label, and several expert repairs indicative of a true Hollywood costume. There is also a secret pocket where Garland kept the handkerchief she presents to Bert Lahr (the Cowardly Lion) when he cries.
The last Dorothy dress known to sell was back in 2015 (through Bonhams) and it sold for $1.5M. This time around the high estimate for the current Dorothy dress, with a low estimate of $800,000. Multiples were made of the actors’ costumes in case of damage or wear and the one going to auction through Bonhams was worn by Garland during the scenes where she was in the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West.
There is only one other Dorothy dress that still has its white blouse with it and only 4 Dorothy dresses known to exist today in any condition.
According to Bonhams’ Director of Popular Culture, Helen Hall, “Important costumes from this iconic movie rarely appear on the auction market.” Jacqueline J. Leary-Warsaw, Dean of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art at The Catholic University of America, called the sale “bittersweet” but acknowledged that it was going to a good cause.
Other items in the upcoming the auction include several garments worn by Steve McQueen, memorabilia and clothing owned by Dame Joan Collins, and many rare Disney animation cells from the 1930s.