After 13 Years, Dorothy's Stolen Slippers From 'Oz' Have Finally Been Found
In the hierarchy of movie memorabilia, one item has traditionally been prized above Darth Vader's masks or Christopher Reeve's Superman tights. The size five ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in 1939's The Wizard of Oz have long been revered as the "holy grail" of collecting, according to experts. Only five surviving pairs of the many used in the making of the film are known to exist, which made the theft of one pair in 2005 big news.
Those slippers have just been recovered, as The New York Times reports. But the question remains—who took them home?
On August 28, 2005, Garland's red-sequined shoes disappeared from under a smashed Plexiglass display case at the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Without security footage or fingerprints, local and federal law enforcement were left with a cold trail. The shoes didn't belong to the museum, either: They were on loan courtesy of collector Michael Shaw, who originally purchased them from an MGM employee named Kent Warner for $2000 in 1970. With little hope of recovery, Shaw accepted an $800,000 payout from the insurance company.
In a press release that accompanied a press conference held Tuesday, the FBI announced that the case gained momentum in summer 2017, when an unnamed individual approached the insurance company and stated he had information about the location of the slippers. Declaring it an extortion scheme, police in Grand Rapids consulted with federal agents to plan and execute an undercover operation that led to their recovery this past summer in Minneapolis. The slippers were delivered to the Smithsonian, which compared the shoes to a pair housed at the museum in Washington. Curators there declared them genuine.
Both police and the museum were puzzled by the heist, as it would've been almost impossible to profit from the slippers without drawing attention and questions as to how they were acquired. One pair remains in the Smithsonian and will be back on display October 19 following restoration work; another pair was purchased by a group led by Leonardo DiCaprio for display in the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, due to open later in 2018; two others remain in the hands of private collectors.
The FBI says the investigation into the theft is ongoing and is urging anyone with tips or information about the crime to contact the agency at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324).
[h/t The New York Times]