Man Indicted for Stealing ‘The Wizard of Oz’ Ruby Slippers 18 Years Later

Iconic Ruby Slippers From "The Wizard Oz" Unveiled In Beverly Hills - Credit: Brian To/FilmMagic
Iconic Ruby Slippers From "The Wizard Oz" Unveiled In Beverly Hills - Credit: Brian To/FilmMagic

Almost two decades after the fact, a Minnesota man has been indicted on charges of stealing the famed ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz.

On Tuesday, Terry Martin was indicted by a grand jury with one count of theft of a major artwork, according to federal prosecutors. The indictment alleges that Martin stole the sequined red shoes from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids in 2005. At the time, the slippers were insured for $1 million, although the current market appraisal value is about $3.5 million. The charges are the result of a federal investigation into the initial theft of the ruby slippers.

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The slippers were on loan to the Judy Garland Museum, located in the late actor’s hometown, when someone climbed through a window and broke the display case. During the investigation, several rewards were offered for the return of the shoes. Law enforcement offered $250,000 early in the case, while an anonymous donor from Arizona offered $1 million in 2015.

The slippers were eventually recovered by the FBI and Grand Rapids Police Department in July 2018. They are one of the four remaining pairs. As noted by the prosecutors, the shoes are among the most recognizable memorabilia in American film history. The three other pairs Garland wore in the movie are in the collections of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Smithsonian, and a private collector.

Janie Heitz, executive director of the Judy Garland Museum, told the Associated Press that she and her team were “a little bit speechless” that someone had finally been charged. At the time of the theft, the shoes were on loan to the museum by Hollywood memorabilia collector Michael Shaw, who received an insurance payout. Heitz said she hopes the slippers will be returned to the museum after the case ends.

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