An iconic pair of red slippers worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” stolen from a Minnesota museum more than a decade ago have now been found. According to officials, the slippers were recovered earlier this summer after a sting operation conducted in Minneapolis. Officials say that the FBI has identified suspects and has executed multiple search warrants in Minnesota and Florida in connection with the investigation.
The slippers had been housed in the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn. In August 2005, someone broke into the museum through a window and stole the slippers from their small display case. The theft was described as a simple smash-and-grab, with no footprints or fingerprints left behind. According to previous reports, the surveillance camera at the museum was not working that night. Investigators are now seeking the public’s help to identify those associated with the initial theft.
The slippers are said to among the most valued props in movie history. The shoes are one of at least four pairs used in The Wizard of Oz that are still in existence and were insured for $1 million. One pair, jointly acquired by Leonardo DiCaprio and Steven Spielberg, is on display at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Two of the other existing pairs are owned by private collectors.
A recent attempt to defraud and extort the Markel Corporation, which insured the slippers and a new tip to officials led to the sting operation that recovered the slippers. Conservators at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. were able to authenticate the shoes based on their construction, materials, and wear.
The details of the alleged extortion plot have not been released, but the attempt apparently led to the Grand Rapids Police requesting assistance from the FBI in the matter. Christopher Myers, U.S. Attorney for the District of North Dakota, said that prosecutors will be pressing charges if appropriate.