Stolen ruby ​​slippers from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ returned to owner in ceremony at Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota

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MINNEAPOLIS — The FBI has returned a pair of ruby ​​slippers from the 1939 film classic “The Wizard of Oz” to a man nearly 20 years after the iconic shoes were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids.

Michael Shaw, a Los Angeles-based acting teacher, purchased the slippers from an MGM client in 1969 and loaned them to the museum decades later. according to a 2008 interview he did with Forbes.

In 2005, a thief broke into the museum and stole them.

“I’m still furious,” Shaw told Forbes. “For a lot of people, they represented home, love, childhood and security. That’s what people saw when they looked at the sneakers. And now they’re gone.”

“A heartfelt reunion with a long-lost friend”

The couple was recovered in 2018. during an undercover operation in Minneapolis, and Shaw told investigators shortly afterward that the couple was still in “pristine” condition.

RELATED: Grand Rapids residents rejoice after ‘Oz’ sneaker recovery

Hollywood historians believe that seven pairs of ruby ​​slippers were made for the film, and four still exist. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, which owns one of the pairs, authenticated the recovered pair for the FBI.

That couple was recently returned to Shaw in a ceremony at the museum, located in Garland’s hometown. The FBI says that when Shaw and his niece saw the shoes for the first time in decades, Shaw compared it “to a heart-to-heart reunion with a long-lost friend.”

Jeff Baenen/AP

“It was incredibly gratifying and appropriate to see Mr. Shaw reunite with the Ruby Slippers at Judy Garland’s home, accompanied by his museum staff friends,” said FBI Special Agent Dudley. “It is a privilege for the FBI and our art crimes team to work alongside law enforcement partners who truly value the importance of protecting our nation’s cultural heritage.”

The FBI says Dudley also gave Shaw a red sequin that the thief left inside the museum.

John Kelsh, the museum’s founding director, called the ceremony a moment of healing.

“The Judy Garland Museum survived the impact of this violation and is grateful to be a part of the homecoming,” Kelsh said.

Kelsh said the museum is currently working on an exhibit about the theft.

Two suspects charged, one convicted

In June 2023, 76 years old. Terry Jon Martin pleaded not guilty to a charge of theft of an important work of art, but later changed his plea to guilty in October. Court documents characterized Martin as a “reformed mobster” who stole the shoes as “one last score“.

The Grand Rapids resident was sentenced earlier this year to time served due to health issues, plus one year of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay the museum $23,000 in restitution. Martin is currently in palliative care.

On Sunday the existence of a second man, 76 years old, was revealed. Jerry Saliterman, of Crystal, was also charged with art theft in connection with the disappearance of the sneakers, as well as one count of witness tampering, according to unsealed court documents. It is unclear how, or if, Saliterman is connected to Martin.

Kelsh told the Associated Press that an auction house now owns Shaw’s pair and plans to sell them. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says the couple’s estimated market value is $3.5 million.

NOTE: The original air date of the video attached to this article is March 17, 2024.

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