Judy Garland's Iconic Costume Is At The Center Of A New Lawsuit

The iconic ruby red slippers that Judy Garland wore as Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" are on display at the Smithsonian Museum, but have you ever wondered what happened to the equally iconic gingham dress? Trust us when we say that the story is way wilder than you probably expected. It involves a dead priest, the demon voice in "The Exorcist," and a lawsuit. Like we said — it's wild

According to CNBC, the dress (one of six originals) was found at The Catholic University of America during renovations in June 2021. Mercedes McCambridge — an actor friend of Garland's who, ironically, voiced the demon in "The Exorcist" — gave the dress as a gift to Dominican Father Gilbert Hartke when she was artist-in-residence at Catholic University back in the early 1970s. But the priest evidently didn't keep very good track of the famous costume, and after he died in 1986, nobody knew what had happened to it. 

Until now, that is! Here's where it gets litigious. 

The priest's niece is suing Catholic University for auctioning Judy Garland's famous costume

After finding the Dorothy dress stuck in a white trash bag above their faculty mail slots during renovations (seriously), The Catholic University decided to sell the valuable costume, and it is scheduled to be auctioned by Bonhams New York on May 24, according to CNBC. That is, unless the niece of the long-dead priest, Barbara Hartke, is successful in blocking the sale. Hartke has sued both The Catholic University and the auction house, claiming that the dress doesn't belong to the university, it belongs to her uncle's estate. 

This is now the second iconic dress to cause a giant controversy this week. The first, of course, being Kim Kardashian wearing Marilyn Monroe's "Happy Birthday Mr. President" dress to the Met Gala — which is technically owned by Ripley's Believe It Or Not and which did not technically fit her, via BuzzFeed. We at least don't think that the priest's niece is planning to wear Dorothy's blue dress from 1939 to any events. But who really knows.