Judy Garland's missing pair of ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz has finally been discovered after a 13-year search by law enforcement. In the cinema classic, Garland's Dorothy wears the magical footwear and famously clicks her heels together while saying "there's no place like home" in order to be whisked away from Oz and back to Kansas. As one of the first feature productions to utilize technicolor, the imagery of the bright red, sparkly slippers was quickly etched onto moviegoers' minds and the prop remains of the most recognizable and famous in cinematic history to this day.
There are four pairs of ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz's tumultuous production currently known to exist. Two of these are currently held in museums and another is owned by a private collector. The fourth pair was the property of Michael Shaw, however Shaw loaned the pair out to the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota over a decade ago and in 2005, they were stolen. In a well-planned heist, an unknown perpetrator managed to evade museum security - with cameras not functioning and an alarm signal not sent to local law enforcement - and enter the museum through a small window, spiriting the ruby slippers away. Only a single red sequin was left behind and the podium on which the iconic prop once stood has remained empty ever since, while police and the FBI continued to chase leads.
Now, after 13 long years, the missing slippers have finally been recovered and were unveiled at the FBI's Minnesota HQ on Tuesday (via The Telegraph). The slippers were apparently recovered after a tip-off from a man in 2017 who approached the company that insured the slippers claiming to know how the property could be recovered.
Since the slippers' rarity and fame made them almost impossible to sell on, it's thought that the people involved in the theft sought to extort the owner of the item rather than cash in on them directly. Although the ruby slippers were recovered after a sting operation, the authorities are still investigating the identities of those involved and have multiple suspects in their sights.
Obviously, this development will come as a monumental relief to both owner, Michael Shaw, and the museum who assured him that their security was sufficient. Interestingly, Shaw revealed in a 2016 documentary that the Judy Garland museum originally offered to have the slippers placed in a secure vault overnight but the owner refused, claiming he didn't want staff handling them repeatedly.
It's always a shame when a memorabilia collector's willingness to let the general public enjoy their iconic property is betrayed by a minority who only see an opportunity to make money. Thankfully, it appears as if the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz were too hot for the thieves to profit from and their return makes for a telling reminder than not only does crime never pay but, just like Dorothy herself, the lost can always wind up back home.
Source: The Telegraph