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Stolen ‘Wizard of Oz’ Ruby Slippers Recovered After 13 Years

Police, FBI teamed for investigation into one of the most important pieces of Hollywood memorabilia

Wizard of Oz

A pair of stolen iconic ruby slippers Judy Garland wore in 'The Wizard of Oz' has been recovered.

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A pair of stolen iconic ruby slippers Judy Garland wore in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz may soon be making their way home after being taken from a museum 13 years ago, CBS News reports. The slippers were recovered during a joint investigation between the Grand Rapids Police Department in Minnesota and the FBI.

In August 2005, a burglar broke into the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, MN, the town where the actress, who played The Wizard of Oz lead character Dorothy, was born. The burglar entered through the museum’s back door window and broke through the Plexiglass case housing the slippers to steal them. No fingerprints were found and the museum’s alarm system did not sound to a central dispatch system. The only evidence left behind was a single red sequin.

“The police department really had no evidence and no clues to work with,” Grand Rapids Police Sergeant Robert Stein told CBS News. “The investigator assigned to the case was fearful that the thief might destroy the slippers if he believed police were on his tail.”

At the time, the slippers were on loan from private collector Michael Shaw as part of a special tour. Over the years, speculation circulated about who stole the slippers.

“Therefore, when rumors developed that local wayward youth were most likely responsible for the thefts and had tossed the slippers in the Mississippi River or in one of the many water-filled iron ore pits that dot the landscape, we did little to dispel it,” Stein continued. “We believed that information would eventually surface and knew we were in this for the long haul.”

In 2015, an anonymous donor offered a $1 million reward for information that would lead to recovering the slippers, which were insured for $1 million, but may be worth millions more at auction. The stolen pair is one of at least four known pairs to have been worn by Garland during The Wizard of Oz. The slippers are considered one of the most important pieces of Hollywood memorabilia, so much so that the 2016 documentary, The Slippers, is dedicated to exploring the ruby shoes’ cultural impact.

Though officers pursued several tips through the years, many of the investigations led to counterfeits or dead-ends. However, the department teamed with the FBI following a tip Grand Rapids Police Detective Brian Mattson received last summer, which involved investigating out of the state.

Police recovered the slippers in Minneapolis earlier this summer and the pair is in possession of the FBI. Though the slippers have been found, the investigation currently remains active, police said. On Tuesday, authorities will hold a news conference at the FBI’s Minneapolis headquarters. It’s unclear if anyone has been or will be charged in connection with the theft.

“When the slippers were snatched in that early morning burglary, the thief not only took the slippers but also a piece of history that will forever be connected to Grand Rapids and one of our city’s most famous children,” Grand Rapids Police Chief Scott Johnson said in a statement. “We knew this day would eventually come and we are grateful to the FBI and all those that worked so hard to bring this piece of cinematic treasure out of the shadows and into the light. After all, ‘There’s no place like home!'”

In This Article: Judy Garland

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