The Cowardly Lion costume from the1939 film “The Wizard of Oz,”sold for nearly $3.1 million at Bonhams auction in New York on November 25, 2014. This costume including the sculpted likeness of actor Bert Lahr’s face, was purchased by the buyer, whose identity wasn’t disclosed, who bid $2.6 million plus a premium to the auction house of $477,000, bringing the total to $3,077,000. The costume, which is fabricated from actual lion skins, had languished in an MGM back-lot warehouse for more than five decades before being sold in an industrial auction in the 1990s.
The seller at Bonhams, James Comisar, said he acquired it when someone answered an ad he put out that read, “Wanted: Ruby Slippers.” That person brought the costume to him in a garbage bag.
“From a garbage bag to $2.6 million, it was a magical journey,” said Mr. Comisar, who said the costume is believed to have been the only one worn by actor Bert Lahr during the shooting of the film. A second one was sold from MGM’s lot in the 1970s, but it didn’t match the one seen on screen and is thought to have been used by a stunt man.
The iconic costume makes more than a dozen appearances in the movie.
Hollywood memorabilia sold by Bonham’s auction house on Monday night also included a piano featured in the 1942 classic “Casablanca,” which fetched more than $3.4 million, Bonham’s spokeswoman Vyoma Venkataraman said on Tuesday.