Stolen ‘Wizard of Oz’ ruby ​​slippers reunited with owner

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The ceremony brought together owner Michael Shaw and his family with museum officials and staff who missed what may have been its biggest draw.

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. — It took a lot more than a click of heels, but the iconic shoes worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” are finally where they belong.

On Monday, the FBI office in Minneapolis released photos of the Ruby Slippers meeting with owner Michael Shaw. The film memorabilia, worth an estimated $3.5 million, was stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in 2005. They were recovered more than a decade later in 2018, and two men have been federally charged for his role in stealing and hiding them.

During the ceremony, which took place in Garland’s hometown of Grand Rapids, the iconic ruby ​​slippers were placed on their original pedestal. The FBI says that when Shaw, accompanied by his niece, saw the sneakers for the first time in nearly two decades, he likened the experience to a heartfelt reunion with a long-lost friend.

“It was incredibly gratifying and fitting to see Mr. Shaw reunite with the Ruby Slippers at Judy Garland’s home, accompanied by his museum staff friends,” said Special Agent Christopher Dudley, one of the investigators who worked on the case. . “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.”

Special Agent Dudley not only returned Shaw’s ruby ​​slippers, but also presented him with a single red sequin left at the crime scene nearly two decades ago.

The Judy Garland Museum was shocked by the theft, as the slippers were there on loan from Shaw. Although they were insured for $1 million, museum leaders say the theft shattered a long-standing friendship with its owner, tarnished the organization’s credibility and made several people instant suspects.

“The Judy Garland Museum survived the impact of this breach and is grateful to be a part of the homecoming,” reflected John Kelsch, who was the museum’s director at the time of the heist, noting that it negatively affected operations for many years. The return of the slippers to Shaw, if not to the museum, promises a new beginning.

“We continue to serve visitors from all over the world: let’s hope for an exhibition on the ruby ​​slipper crime in the near future,” Kelsch hinted.

For his part, Shaw introduced representatives from Heritage Auctions at the meeting ceremony and announced that he will partner with them to launch a world tour of the sneakers so people can see them before they are auctioned later this year. Judy Garland Museum officials say they are “working diligently” to find a way to purchase them and preserve them in a place where Garland’s life and legacy will be celebrated.


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