Long-lost ‘Wizard of Oz’ dress worn by Judy Garland is going up for sale

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra during a rehearsal of "The Wizard of Oz" in front of a big screen in the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House June 21, 2006 in Sydney, Australia.
Photo credit Getty Images

“The Wizard of Oz” fans with deep pockets, listen up!

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The blue and white gingham pinafore dress that Judy Garland wore as Dorothy in the classic 1939 film is soon going up for auction.

As People reported, Auction house Bonhams will put the dress up for bidding in Los Angeles, CA, on May 24 as part of their Bonhams Classic Hollywood: Film and Television sale. The dress is expected to sell for between $800,000 to $1.2 million, according to Bonhams.

As previously reported here, the dress is one of five that were used throughout the film. To add to its collector allure, it’s one of only two that still have the white blouse; and it was thought to be lost for more than 40 years before it was discovered last spring in a box on a shelf in the drama department at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

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As collectors know, most famous film props have a few copies utilized throughout the process, in different scenes and settings. This dress has a very exciting provenance behind it, as it’s the one Garland wore in the big scene where Dorothy confronts the Wicked Witch of the West in her castle.

The dress was originally a gift to the University from Oscar-winning actress and close Garland friend, Mercedes McCambridge, in 1973. The story of the dress donation originally appeared in an article in the student newspaper at the time. But it was simply packed away, forgotten about, and thought to be lost to time.

In 2021, staff member Matt Ripa, who started working at the school in 2014, took it upon himself to poke around for the mythical dress. "I had looked in our archives, storage closets, etc. to no avail,” said Ripa. "I assumed it was a tall tale."

But then on June 7, while clearing out clutter for a building renovation, Ripa reached for a box atop a rack of faculty mail slots near his desk — and there it was.

"I noticed on top of the faculty mailboxes a trashbag," he explained, "and asked my co-worker to hand it to me. On the trashbag was a note for our former chair stating that he had found 'this' in his office and that he must have moved it when he moved out of the chair's office…I was curious what was inside and opened the trashbag, and inside was a shoebox, and inside the shoe box was the dress!! I couldn't believe it."

“As soon as I popped the top off the box, I knew what it was,” Ripa said. “I saw that blue gingham and I just started laughing and laughing. I mean, I’m still laughing. Because I was shocked, holding a piece of Hollywood history right in my hands.”

Proceeds from the dress auction will go toward supporting the Department of Drama at Catholic University.

"While parting with this dress is bittersweet,” said Jacqueline J. Leary-Warsaw, dean of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art, “the proceeds are going to help support future generations training for professional careers in theater. It might just be that the funding helps to prepare the next Mercedes McCambridge or Judy Garland!"

It’s interesting to note that the auction will happen about two weeks before the 100th birthday of Judy Garland, who died in 1969.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images