The famous ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” were taken from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids more than 15 years ago, and a man has been accused of stealing them.
In August 2005, Terry Jon Martin allegedly stole an actual pair of ruby slippers that Judy Garland wore in the 1939 movie. He was accused in the District of Minnesota U.S. District Court.
According to court records, Martin, a 76-year-old from Grand Rapids, has a felony conviction from 1986 for receiving stolen items outside of Hennepin County.
The slippers, which are at least $100,000 in value, were found in Minneapolis in 2018 during a sting operation. They were returned to the owner in the same “pristine” condition as when they were taken.
“My knees buckled when I was on the phone and they said the shoes were stolen and the only thing I could blurt out was, ‘Get them back!'” Michael Shaw told.
Four pairs are recognized. The Smithsonian received the recovered slippers, and after conservators there studied them, they decided the ruby slippers were real.
The museum certifies that the burglary was not an inside job, contrary to years of rumors.
“The [suspect] lived 12 miles from the museum, as it sounds, and we don’t know who this person is, so that’s surprising,” said Janie Heitz, the executive director of the Judy Garland Museum.
Once the criminal matter is resolved, according to Heitz, the museum would like to be taken into consideration as a potential home for the slippers.
“Obviously we’ll update our security and protect them as well as we can, but I think it would just be a great ending to this very long, drawn-out saga,” she said. “That movie and those shoes bring so much joy to so many people.”
The tweet below confirms the news:
BREAKING: A man has been charged with stealing the iconic ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz" from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids. | https://t.co/Mt6bPmmSmg
— WCCO | CBS News Minnesota (@WCCO) May 17, 2023
OZ Memorabilia Fetches High Prices
There are numerous other “The Wizard of Oz” props that have earned high bids at auctions, not only the slippers. Recently, the elaborate hourglass used in the scene where the Wicked Witch of the West tells Dorothy that she only has a little time to live sold for close to half a million dollars.
On the other hand, a judge stopped plans to sell the famous blue-and-white checkered gingham dress that Garland wore from happening last spring.
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The dress remained allegedly missing until 2021, when it was discovered in a storage room at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., along with some of Father Gilbert Hartke’s other items. After D.C. Hartke passed away in 1986, his niece filed a lawsuit to get the dress returned to the estate.
“The Wizard of Oz,” widely considered one of America’s top classic films, was nominated for six Oscars at the 1940 Academy Awards — including best picture — winning for original score and original song for “Over the Rainbow.” Garland herself also won a special Oscar “for her outstanding performance as a screen juvenile during the past year,” which included her other 1939 performance in “Babes in Arms.”
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