The original dress worn by the star Judy Garland when she immortalised the character of Dorothy in the classic film masterpiece, The Wizard of Oz, sold for a staggering £140,000 today – over 4 times its estimate. It was greeted with a round of applause at Bonhams jam-packed saleroom in a sale of Rock n Roll & Film Memorabilia at Knightsbridge, London.
Only 17 when she played the renowned character, Garland went on to become an iconic Hollywood figure, known for her acting and singing talent as well as a tumultuous personal life that came to a tragic halt only 30 years later.
Jon Baddeley, Group Head of the Collectors Department at Bonhams said,We are absolutely delighted at this world record price. This is a fairytale ending to one of the most romantic pieces of movie costume to be offered at auction.
The dress was bought by a London businessman as a surprise 32nd birthday present for his wife as he knew how much the film means to her. He married her recently and also wanted to find a precious item that would be irreplaceable – he thought the dress was the perfect item. Ironically, his wife was also a bidder in the sale, unaware of her husband bidding but dropped out when the bids kept going up. He revealed that he was the buyer by handing her a message over dinner which stated his identity and ended with your wifes a lucky girl. After a few re-reads, his wife was in shock and overwhelmed with her surprise. She said I feel so strange today, its like meeting a very important person – I still cant quite believe it! I am probably one of the biggest fans of the film and of Judy Garland it evokes such happy childhood memories for me. The buyers adds My wife since childhood has been enchanted by the magic of the Wizard of Oz, and has today realised a life long dream in owning a small part of the movies history. Im so excited for her. He won the dress over fierce competition from American bidders.
The Wizard of Oz is a story of a young girl, Dorothy Gale from Kansas played by the young Judy Garland who is swept away by a tornado to a breathtaking land over the rainbow. Dorothy embarks on a quest to see the fabled Wizard who can assist her return to Kansas with the help of three friends she meets while travelling the yellow brick road the Lion, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow. Bringing to screen vibrant colour, magnificent excitement and pure magic, it created time honoured characters that have been at the core of many childrens upbringing for decades, from the heroine and her companions, to the Wicked Witch of the West and of course, Toto, Dorothys beloved dog.
The Wizard of Oz was the most expensive film to be made at the time and has been seen by more people than any other film ever made. It also ranks among the best musicals ever made.
The dress is made from blue and white gingham cotton and designed in the style of a pinafore from 1939. It was tailored to fit Judy Garland; the dress has a waist of 27 inches, height of 3.4 feet and contains a label with her name sewn on the inside hem.
Garland worked for nearly forty-five of her forty-seven years. She has become one of the worlds most revered personalities who came and went in less than a lifetime of most of her fans and left an indelible mark on show business history. Dorothys dress reinforces the popular interpretation of the film as a tribute to youthful innocence, moral integrity, courage and the optimism of an era. It symbolises the character for which Judy Garland is best remembered today.
For more details visit the Bonhams web site.