Catholic U Barred From Selling ‘Wizard of Oz’ Dress

A judge halted Catholic University’s auction of a dress worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz amid a court battle over ownership of the garment, WTOP reported.

United States District Court Judge Paul Gardephe ordered Catholic University and auction house Bonhams not to do anything with the dress until the case is heard between the university and the family of the Reverend Gilbert Hartke, the late priest who served as Catholic’s longtime drama director. Father Hartke’s family claims that actress Mercedes McCambridge gave him the dress as a personal gift after he helped her battle substance abuse; Catholic University said the dress was presented to Father Hartke in his official capacity as a drama professor, and it therefore belongs to the university.

Amin Al-Sarraf, an attorney for Catholic University, cited a 1973 article in The Washington Post, which states that Father Hartke wanted the dress displayed at the theater on campus, WTOP reported. “The university’s position is that the allegations in the lawsuit have no basis in law or fact because Catholic University is the rightful owner of the dress and Father Hartke’s estate does not have a property interest in it,” Al-Sarraf told WTOP.

Tony Lehman, a relative of Father Hartke, told WTOP that the family is “miffed” at how Catholic University is handling the lawsuit. “They’re just mischaracterizing what this is all about, and that this was a gift to Gilbert,” Lehman said.

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