FBI recovers stolen Judy Garland ruby slippers

The red sequinned shoes were worn by actress Judy Garland in the movie The Wizard Of Oz (1939).
The red sequinned shoes were worn by actress Judy Garland in the movie The Wizard Of Oz (1939).PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES • A pair of ruby slippers worth millions that were featured in the movie The Wizard Of Oz (1939) and stolen from a Judy Garland museum 13 years ago have been recovered in Minneapolis, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said on Tuesday.

The FBI said it was asking the public to help identify suspects connected with the original theft and a more recent scheme to extort money from the owners of the red sequinned shoes, one of four pairs worn by actress Judy Garland, who played Dorothy in the 1939 classic.

"Dorothy's slippers are a treasured piece of Americana and we are hoping members of the public can help us better fill in the details that will finish the script of this mystery so we can hold accountable all those who were behind the scheme," Ms Jill Sanborn, special agent in charge of the Minneapolis bureau of the FBI, said in a written statement.

The slippers, known as the "travelling pair", were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, during a "smash-and-grab" robbery during the overnight hours of Aug 27 to 28, 2005, that took less than a minute and left behind only a single sequin.

They remained missing for the next 13 years despite an exhaustive investigation by local law enforcement that included a search of abandoned ore pits.

In 2015, an anonymous fan of the film offered a US$1-million reward for their safe return.

The Grand Rapids Police Department sought assistance from the FBI last year over an extortion plot against the owners of the shoes, the Markel Corporation, which led to their recovery.

After their recovery, the slippers were sent to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, where conservators studying construction, materials and wear patterns of the slippers were able to confirm that they were the missing pair.

Garland, a native of Grand Rapids who was born Frances Ethel Gumm, was best known for her role as Dorothy in the film .

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2018, with the headline 'FBI recovers stolen Judy Garland ruby slippers'. Print Edition | Subscribe