The Cowardly Lion costume from 'The Wizard Of Oz' is set to fetch $3 million at auction next month.

The outfit - made from real lion hide - has been carefully preserved at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art until now, but it will now go on sale at Profiles in History's two-day auction on December 15 and 16 at The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills.

James Comisar, a specialist in preserving cultural materials at the museum, said: "We can all relate to not having enough courage, and I believe that's why the Cowardly Lion continues to resonate year after year and generation after generation."

Joe Maddalena, who runs the dealership Profiles in History, added: "This costume was worn when the Cowardly Lion first meets Dorothy on the Yellow Brick Road and sings 'If I only had the Nerve' as well as his trademark, 'If I were King of the Forest'.

"It is very special because it was worn in some of the most magical moments of the film."

The Lion was portrayed by late actor Bert Lahr in the 1939 film, which starred Judy Garland as Dorothy, who was trying to meet the Wizard to get home to Kansas after landing in Oz. On her way she met the Lion, the Scarecrow, who wanted a brain and the Tinman, who needed a heart.

Other memorabilia up for grabs will include Bela Lugosi's cape from 'Dracula', the DeLorean from 'Back To The Future III', Marilyn Monroe's wedding ring from her marriage to Joe DiMaggio and a Marilyn Monroe nude painting by Earl Moran.