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A tip has led the Federal Bureau of Investigation to the recovery of one of movie history’s most prized items, the pair of ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz (also referred to as the Judy Garland shoes) which were stolen thirteen years ago from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The shoes are estimated to be worth millions of dollars.
The Wizard of Oz story would not be complete without the slippers. Dorothy, Garland’s character could only return to her home if she clicked the heels of her slippers three times repeating the words “there’s no place like home.” Little wonder it was referred to as the “Holy Grail of Hollywood memorabilia” by Ryan Thomas.
Popular Hollywood memorabilia collector, Michael Shaw had loaned the slippers to the Garland Museum in 2005, and they were insured for a million dollars. The museum put forth a suggestion that the slippers should be stored in a vault each night but Shaw refused believing that the general security in the museum would keep them safe and secure.
The theft was carried out in August 2005 when the museum staff found the case containing them smashed with no alarm sounded. This was a smash and grab robbery that took less than a minute in the overnight hours of August 27th and the only evidence the thief left behind was a single sequin. The matter had been under investigation with a reward of up to a million dollars being offered to anyone who could offer useful information about the whereabouts of the slippers.
Leads were pursued as volunteers dived into the deep-water lake that was near the museum in the hope that the thief may have dumped them there but came back empty-handed. Abandoned ore pits were also searched in the hope of finding the slippers but they remained missing for thirteen years.
The big break was made after a man went to the insurers of the shoes and said he could help them get the shoes back in 2017. The overambitious fellow was attempting to extort money from the owners of the slippers, the Markel Corporation and the police were involved in the matter.
The slippers, when found were sent to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington where their authenticity was confirmed. This isn’t your typical theft case as the memorabilia was seen to hold a special place in the society at large because it was a reflection of the beliefs, memories, and values of the people.
According to the U.S Attorney for North Dakota, Christopher Myers, the police are not done and still have a lot of work to do to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice. There are suspects that are still under investigation and FBI is soliciting persons with any information that could help find those connected to the original theft and the extortion scheme to contact them.