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Fun Stuff: Iconic Dorothy Dress Sold for $480,000!

Icons & Idols Auction Catalogue, Julien's Auction House

By Stacey Gualandi/November 11, 2012
Photos by Stacey and Julien’s Auction House

In the movie classic, “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy uttered that famous phrase: “There’s no place like home.”  Well, now Dorothy’s iconic blue-checkered gingham dress has found a new home.  The costume, worn by actress Judy Garland when she played Dorothy Gale in the 1939 motion picture, sold on the auction block for $480,000!!!

Icons & Idols Auction at Julien's, Beverly Hills

It was the marquis item up for bid at Julien’s Auctions’ “Icons and Idols” two-day auction held this weekend in Beverly Hills, CA.  The auction even included cake from the royal weddings.  Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s went for $1,375 while Prince William and Kate Middleton’s sold well over the estimate at $7,500.

Prince William and Kate's wedding cake at Julien's Auction

Presentation box with Prince William and Kate’s brandy-infused fruit wedding cake

Founder Darien Julien told me the world-famous piece of Hollywood memorabilia worn by Judy Garland is one of only two complete dresses from the film that includes both the blouse and pinafore.  “The value of these items keep going up because these are historical artifacts; they are one-of-a-kind… like Monet paintings.”

The video above will tell you more about this specially designed pinafore.  There’s even a secret compartment in a seam that few people know about.  A New Jersey man bought it at auction for $2,090 in 1981 as a Christmas gift for his Oz-loving wife.  But after thirty years, the couple made the emotional decision to let go of it and watched in person as it sold to the highest bidder.

The dress was one of over 800 pieces of Hollywood history up for bid.  My movie-loving life flashed right in front of my eyes.  If I were a bidding kind of gal, I would have been all over Jayne Mansfield’s silk animal print dress (below).

Some of the items on display for buyers at the auction and on phones from around the world:

"Sound of Music" dresses at Julien's Icons & Idols Auction 11/10/12

“Sound of Music” dresses/Julie Andrews’ on far left

Julie Andrews’ floral-patterned dress with butterfly sleeves – $38,400

Icons & Idols Auction at Julien's--Marilyn Monroe (l), Liz on right--11-10-12

Monroe’s gold two-piece outfit/Taylor’s costume from “Poker Alice”

Gold shimmering outfit worn by Marilyn Monroe – $43,750
Elizabeth Taylor’s two-piece wool costume and matching hat – $11,250

Icons & Idols dresses at Julien's Auction/11-10-12

Gowns worn by Jayne Mansfield, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe

Jayne Mansfield’s silk jungle cat print dress (1957) – $16,250
Elizabeth Taylor’s gown by Edith Head from “A Place in the Sun (1951) – $28,125
Marilyn Monroe’s off-white chiffon dress – $7,680

Icons & Idols Julien's Auction-Phyllis Diller dress/11-10-12

The late Phyllis Diller’s tent-style mini dress with rhinestones and tassels – $896

Icons & Idols Julien's Auction/Steve McQueen's jacket

And Steve McQueen’s racing jacket worn in 1970 sold for a whopping $50,000!

Asked what Judy Garland would have to say about the dress she made famous all those years ago selling for that price, Darren says, “Back then, MGM in the 70’s couldn’t give this stuff away and now that these items are worth so much money, Judy would certainly be amazed.”

Dorothy "Wizard of Oz" dress at Julien's Auction/11-10-12

Get your checkbooks ready.   Julien’s Auctions’ next “Icons & Idols” event is set for December…

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Bette Midler’s Divine Collection Goes Up For Auction

Bette Midler Julien's Auction Catalogue

UPDATE 3/3/13: Bette Midler’s new one-woman show, “I’ll Each You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers,” previews on Broadway 4/5 and opens 4/24

By Stacey Gualandi/November 4, 2011

TWITTER: @juliensauctions

The Rose. Delores De Lago. Queen of Trash. Showgirl. Bathhouse Betty. The Divine Miss M. So many characters, but only one Bette Midler. Over her 40-year career, Bette has created some of the most colorful, iconic, and certainly memorable personas of any performer, and now she is parting with her personal collection in a rare sale at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills on November 12th.

A few years ago, I got to see her in Las Vegas in “The Showgirl Must Go On.” The costumes were so incredible that I just had to see them up close one more time. It was a thrill to get to see them recently at the preview.

Bette Midler

Bette in her “Kiss My Brass” sailor costume

Up for auction will be her outrageous Bob Mackie-designed costumes, designer gowns from Valentino to Pucci, headdresses, gold records, her first audition dress, her Las Vegas boogie-woogie bugle boy costumes, and even her Cable Ace Awards.

Midler’s auction follows a wave of recent celebrity collections up for sale. Julien’s Auctions’ founder Darren Julien says the reason is simple.

Bette Midler Awards Up for Auction “It’s because of their historical significance mixed with fans, investors and collectors all competing against each other to obtain a piece of pop culture history. Collecting and investing in pop culture memorabilia is much more fun than buying a Monet or Picasso, and the values just continue to rise.”

For Bette, selling her personal items has been heartbreaking and hilarious, but “the time has come for me to pass along these personal treasures, and I do it for so many reasons, but mainly to support the greening group I founded 16 years ago, the New York Restoration Project…and finish the work I started.”

The NYRP is a non-profit that cleans up parks, gardens and open spaces where Bette calls home: New York City. She says, “Who loves me, loves the planet too!”

Bette Midler Black and White Dress

“Bathhouse Betty” gown

So now fans and collectors alike can own her “Bathhouse Betty” Bob De Mora-designed gown from her 1998 album or the Valentino she wore to the Oscars in 1992 as a nominee in “For the Boys.” There’s even her infamous “mermaid-in-a-wheelchair” get-up that recently caused a stir when Bette said Lady Gaga stole the same look for her recent tour. Her magenta mermaid costume alone could hook you for $1500. Bette says to Gaga, “Here’s your chance!”

Bette Midler magenta mermaid outfit for auction

Magenta mermaid outfit

Julien, an entertainment memorabilia expert, has held previous auctions for Cher, Barbra Streisand and the Osbourne’s. He says he’s been pursuing Bette for over five years now because her career “is unlike any other celebrity. She is a class act and many of her costumes are way over the top. They are works of art themselves.”

Response to Bette’s personal property he says has been overwhelming, which should ease Bette’s mind. “She was nervous about doing a personal auction. Like most celebrities, she worries about what the response will be. She has nothing to worry about because she has a solid fan base who will be participating – not to mention major museums.”

One of Bette’s prized possessions is these blinged-out platform shoes given to her by Cher in the early 1970’s. According to Bette, “they were sensational, but a bit hard to walk in without falling down, so I put them on display in my house. Visitors were mesmerized.”

Bette Midler's Cher Shoes to be auctioned

Platform shoes given to Bette by Cher

Darren says those platform shoes will be the hardest for her to part with. “She has great memories with these colorful shoes and pulled them from the auction twice, but has now given them back to us.”

It’s not surprising to hear that parting is such sweet sorrow, especially with a career spanning 40 years.

Julien says Bette cried when she saw the catalog. “Prior to printing, she pulled some items, realizing that they are too sentimental to her. She saved these items for the memories never thinking that they would someday have value.”

One of those items is the dress that she wore to the red carpet for the opening of “The Rose.” Bette told the Associated Press: “That was the dress that made me cry because it was such a wonderful time in my life and I was surrounded by friends, and I was so thin.”

Bette Midler  as Delores De Lago

Delores De Lago in “The Showgirl Must Go On”

Costumes inspired by her most popular characters like Delores De Lago, including her ever-present ukulele, could fetch the most. But lesser known items, like the dress she wore at her first audition, are valuable just for historical reasons.

“I can imagine the drive and desire to succeed Bette must have had when she wore it, not to mention the nervousness in wondering if she would make it”, says Julien.

There’s no doubt this Diva made it. So whether you’re a fan, collector, or you just want to see history “from a distance”, the Exhibition of The Collection of Bette Midler is free and open to the public, Monday-Saturday from now through November 11th. So Divine.

Now, we must share these fabulous Bette frocks:

Her first audition dress:

Bette Midler's First Audition Dress up for auction
A Bob Mackie creation:

Bob Mackie Creation for Bette Midler Auction

Those famous mermaid outfits:

Bette Midler mermaid outfits for auction

Bette’s fabulous boa:

Bette Midler boa for auction

A Valentino for the Oscars®:

Bette Midler Valentino for auction

The Harlette’s Burlesque costume:

Bette's petticoat bustle

Photos by Stacey Gualandi and Julien’s Auctions