A pair of 'ruby slippers' worn by the late Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz has been recovered in the United States, 13 years after they were stolen.
The red sequin shoes, which are one of four pairs worn by the actress in the 1939 technicolour classic, were robbed from the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota in August 2005. The robbery occurred in the middle of the night in what has been described as a ‘smash and go’ operation. The thief tripped the security alarm and smashed the glass case in which the slippers were being held. Museum staff didn’t realise anything had happened until the following morning.
A huge search operation was quickly launched, with the local police department offering a $250,000 reward for any information leading to the shoes’ return. When that failed to yield any results, an anonymous donor offered a further $1 million for anyone who could provide the location of the slippers (as well as the name of the person who took them).
The investigation continued for years, with the biggest breakthrough happening in summer 2017. The insurance company (through which the shoes were insured for $1 million) was contacted by a man who said he knew where to find them. This information proved invaluable. The ruby slippers were recovered during an undercover operation in Minneapolis and a number of suspects have been identified, the FBI confirmed in a news conference yesterday.
While the iconic shoes have been found, detectives are continuing to piece together what happened. "Dorothy's slippers are a treasured piece of Americana," said Jill Sanborn, special agent in charge of the Minneapolis bureau of the FBI. "We are hoping members of the public can help us fill in the details that will finish the script of this mystery, so we can hold accountable all those who were behind the scheme."
The remaining three pairs of ruby slippers are being held in various locations; including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in California, the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, and in the home of a private collector.
Photos: The Wizard of Oz, MGM