There's No Place Like Home! The Wizard of Oz's Ruby Slippers Found 13 Years After Theft
Tap your heels together three times, and you just might find a missing piece of movie memorabilia.
A pair of The Wizard of Oz‘s iconic ruby slippers stolen 13 years ago have been found. The slippers had been missing since they were snatched from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota — Garland’s hometown — in 2005.
The FBI held a conference Tuesday about the recovery of the slippers. Special Agent Christopher Dudley, who led the investigation from the FBI’s Minneapolis Division, explained how the FBI got involved and managed to recover the prized memorabilia during an undercover operation in Minneapolis.
“From the outset, our top priority was the safe recovery of the slippers,” Dudley said. “We are still working to ensure that we have identified all parties involved in both the initial theft and the more recent extortion attempt for their return. This is very much an active investigation.”
The slippers — which were on loan to the museum — were stolen on August 28, 2005, according to the Star Tribune. The slippers are valued around $2 million or $3 million, CNN reported.
Only the slippers were taken in the theft, and an emergency exit had been tampered with, according to the Star Tribune.
Before the theft, Michael Shaw — a memorabilia collector who owned the slippers — had asked the museum not to place the shoes in a vault overnight to limit the amount they were handled. “But most importantly, I was assured that the museum had security,” Shaw said in The Slippers, a 2016 documentary, according to CNN.“The biggest thing that ever happened to our museum was getting the slippers stolen,” Jon Miner, a museum co-founder, reportedly told KQDS, a CNN affiliate, in 2015. “We were literally crying.”
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Ten years after the heist, a fan offered a $1 million reward for the slippers. The Itasca County Sheriff’s Office even sent divers to look for the slippers in a quarry, the Star Tribune reported.
The slippers are one of four pairs that Garland used while filming the 1939 classic. Another pair resides at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, which launched a $300,000 Kickstarter to repair its slippers in 2016.
“They’re the symbol of the longing for home — a symbol of a sense of place,” John Kelsch, the executive director of the Judy Garland Museum, told the Star Tribunein 2016. “Of any artifact from the movie, they touch that emotion in people.”
“France has the Mona Lisa. America has The Wizard of Oz,” Kelsch added to the outlet. “It’s our national masterpiece, so much a part of the American experience.”