Another story of what was lost has been found. In this case, it was a pair of shoes with the power to bring the wearer home again. Sort of.
After years of fruitless (and symbolic) heel clicking by law enforcement officials from Michigan to Washington, D.C., a pair of Dorothy’s ruby slippers stolen in 2005 – one of four used in the film – has been found. Kovels wrote about the theft in 2015, when a $1 million reward was offered for their return. (See Kovels Komments July 15, 2015.) While the thief who took the shoes from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, is still unknown, the slippers’ owner is grateful to know that the shoes, now valued at $5 million, have been recovered.
Collector Michael Shaw bought the shoes from a Hollywood costume designer who found several pairs gathering dust on a shelf in an MGM Studios backlot property 30 years after the movie was released. He gave a pair to MGM and kept the rest.
The thief broke in the museum's back door, smashed a glass case in the gallery and stole the slippers. They were on loan to the museum and insured for $1 million. The alarm didn’t sound and no fingerprints were left behind, police said. All that was left? A single sequin.
In the summer of 2017, an individual told the insurance company he had information about the shoes and how they could be returned. A statement from the FBI's Minneapolis Division said "it became apparent that those involved were in reality attempting to extort the owners of the slippers." After a nearly yearlong investigation involving the FBI Art Crime Team, FBI Laboratory, and field offices in Chicago, Atlanta and Miami, the slippers were recovered during an undercover operation in Minneapolis.
A collector owns one of the other four known pairs. Another pair has been on display since 1979 in the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. In 2012, a group of actors led by Leonardo DiCaprio purchased a pair for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, set to open this year in Los Angeles.