For those unaware, the ruby red slippers worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” were actually stolen in 2005. These iconic shoes, synonymous with the film’s magic and Dorothy’s journey, were on display at the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota when they were taken. The ruby slippers theft garnered significant attention and led to a lengthy search for their whereabouts.
The conclusion of the ruby slippers theft saga
In 2023, a grand jury in North Dakota indicted a man on charges of stealing a pair of iconic ruby red slippers worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz.”
The theft occurred in 2005, but the slippers were recovered in a 2018 FBI sting operation. However, no arrests were made at the time. Terry Martin, a 76-year-old resident living near the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota, was indicted. He was charged with one count of theft of a major artwork.
The indictment did not provide further details about Martin. When approached by the press, Martin declined to comment, only stating, “I gotta go on trial. I don’t want to talk to you.”
Janie Heitz, the executive director of the museum, expressed surprise. The subject lived nearby, and yet none of the staff had ever seen him.
During the production of “The Wizard of Oz,” Garland wore several pairs of ruby slippers. However, only four authentic pairs are known to exist today. At the time of the theft, the slippers were insured for $1 million, but their current market value is estimated to be around $3.5 million, according to federal prosecutors.
The stolen slippers were on loan to the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, the late actor’s hometown, when they were taken. Prosecutors reported that someone climbed through a window and broke the display case to steal the slippers.
The recovery of the stolen slippers followed years of searching and enticing rewards. Early in the case, law enforcement offered a $250,000 reward, and in 2015, an anonymous donor from Arizona pledged $1 million.
In 2017, a man contacted the shoes’ insurer, claiming he could help retrieve them. After an almost year-long investigation, the FBI seized the slippers in Minneapolis in July 2018. At that time, the bureau stated that no arrests had been made or charges filed in connection with the case.
A summons has been issued for Terry Martin, and an initial court appearance is scheduled for June 1 via video. The U.S. Justice Department in North Dakota provided limited information beyond the details included in the indictment.
The ruby red slippers are famously linked to the iconic line in “The Wizard of Oz,” where Garland’s character, Dorothy, clicks her heels together while repeating the phrase, “There’s no place like home.” The slippers are made from various materials, including wood pulp, silk thread, gelatin, plastic, and glass. The ruby color predominantly comes from sequins, while the bows feature red glass beads.
The other three pairs of slippers worn by Garland in the film are held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Smithsonian, and a private collector.
Once the legal case concludes, the museum staff hopes that the slippers will return to Garland’s hometown, providing a fitting tribute to the legendary actress.