Photo courtesy of the FBI
It seems the Wicked Witch of the West wasn’t the only one trying to get her hands on Dorothy’s ruby slippers. The ICONIC shoes, seen in dazzling Technicolor in the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz,” were recently found by the FBI after being stolen 13 years ago!
Several pairs of the famous footwear were made for the film. The stolen sequined sparklers were one of four pairs worn by Judy Garland as she followed the Yellow Brick Road. The shoes were on loan to a Minnesota museum when they went missing in 2005.
One night the thief or thieves broke into the Judy Garland Museum in Garland’s hometown, Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The display case was smashed and the slippers snatched, but the alarm did not signal police and no fingerprints were found, only a stray sequin (one of over 2,000) stayed behind.
This set of slippers was insured for $1 million, but might be worth much more than that. Michael Shaw, the collector who loaned the shoes to the museum, asked that they not be stored in the vault each night—he did not want the precious movie memorabilia handled too much and potentially damaged. He, no doubt, wished that he could wave a magic wand and change that request when the slippers went missing.
Rumors about the slippers kept flying over the years (faster than flying monkeys), including the story that the shoes had been dumped into a nearby lake. Police and divers searched Tioga Mine Pit Lake three years ago, but to no avail.
The shoes were found, not over the rainbow but in Minneapolis, during an undercover operation by the FBI. The shoes were revealed at a press conference on Sept. 4. The investigation into the 2005 theft is ongoing.
Another pair of ruby slippers worn by Garland is on display in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., and a pair will be exhibited at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles when it opens next year.