The Bonhams TCM auction held in New York on November 24 set a record for the Cowardly Lion costume worn by Bert Lahr in The Wizard of Oz, selling for $3, 077,000 including the buyer’s premium. It had belonged previously belonged to James Comisar, who had owned it for years and had it restored. He is the founder of the Television Museum in Los Angeles and sold it to raise funds to develop the museum. Another high spot at the auction was the piano played by Dooley Wilson in Casablanca, which also sold for $3,413,000. This is the second year of collaboration between TCM (Turner Classic Movies) and Bonhams. This year’s theme was There’s No Place Like Hollywood, celebrating the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz. The auction also featured a Dorothy pinafore, an early test model, that sold for $245,000 including premium. A Munchkin’s soldier’s jacket also sold for $23,700, among other Oz items. The Cowardly Lion’s mane has been duplicated as it was not part of the costume when it was sold at the MGM auction in 1970. Dorothy’s pinafore, a test version designed by Adrian, like all the others, was not the final one used in the film. This same Cowardly Lion suit failed to sell at the Profiles in History auction of December 15-16, 2011. Profiles in History subsequently consigned it to eBay where it sold for $805,000.
For further information on the sales history of several of the Wizard of Oz costumes, see my blog post: http://silverscreenmodes.com/?p=145