The F.B.I announced last week that Judy Garland's iconic ruby slippers - worn for the Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer film The Wizard of Oz, and considered among the most treasured and valuable items of Hollywood memorabilia - have been found 13 years after they were stolen.
CNN revealed that investigators from the F.B.I.’s art crime unit, along with other federal agents in Chicago, Atlanta, and Miami, organized a sting operation to recover the slippers after a man approached the shoes’ insurer and said he could help get them back. The operation ended in Minneapolis and the F.B.I said no one has yet been arrested or charged in the case, but they have “multiple suspects” and continue to investigate.
The famous shoes, insured for $1million, are one of four pairs worn by Garland in the Hollywood classic. They were taken from the Judy Garland Museum - which opened in 1975 in the house where Garland lived as a young child - in Grand Rapids, Minnesota back in August 2005.
At the time of the theft, there were no fingerprints nor security camera footage to help the police catch whoever had broken in through a back entrance and smashed the plexiglass display case holding the shoes. The only thing left behind for investigators to work with was a lone red sequin.
According to The Herald Review, the ruby slippers were on loan for 10 weeks in 2005 for the Judy Garland Festival from their owner Michael Shaw, who lives in North Hollywood, California. Shaw, an Oz collector, reportedly bought the shoes from Kent Warner in 1970 for a mere $2,500. He had loaned the slippers to the museum during the city's annual festival celebrating the late actress.
“I literally felt like I was hit in the stomach when I got the call,” Shaw recalled in 2015 to Newsweek of the moment he found out the shoes were stolen. “I had taken care of those shoes for 35 years!”
The authorities said at the news conference in Minneapolis that their investigation was still in progress and officials asked anyone with information to contact the F.B.I.
The ruby slippers play an instrumental part in the 1939 movie. After mysteriously landing in the colorful Land of Oz after a tornado hit her farm in Kansas, Garland's character, Dorothy, has to click the heels of her slippers three times and repeat "there's no place like home" to return. Glinda the Good Witch had magically transferred them to Dorothy's feet and had warned Dorothy to keep tight inside of them and to never take them off. She had added that the slippers must be very powerful or the Wicked Witch would not want them so badly. Throughout the rest of the film, the Wicked Witch schemes to get her hands on the magical shoes.
Well, we are glad that the much-coveted pair of slippers are finally back where they belong after more than a decade. After all, there really is no place like home.