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In 2005, a group of robbers pulled off a heist that would make the munchkins tremble with fear: in the middle of the night, they stole the ruby slippers that Dorothy wore in The Wizard of Oz from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Only four pairs of the iconic shoes remain, and movie lovers everywhere felt the loss. For 13 years people wondered what had become of Dorothy's slippers and now they've finally come home!

On Tuesday, September 4, the FBI held a press conference with the slippers, reporting that the memorabilia had been recovered during a summer sting operation, alongside many other valuable artifacts.



Jill Sanborn, "special agent in charge of the Minneapolis Division of the FBI," commented:

Not only were these slippers stolen, but the memories of a lot Americans were stolen back in 2005. We hope today that we give those memories back.

After their recovery, the shoes were taken to The Smithsonian (who own one of the other three pairs) for authentication. After the museum confirmed they were, in fact, one of the real pairs of shoes from the 1939 MGM classic, the FBI was able to deliver the good news to Michael Shaw, who had cared for the shoes since buying them for $2,000 in 1970.

Shaw was overjoyed:

It was really one of the most thrilling moments of my life when they said, 'We've got them.'

Shaw was devastated when he heard the slippers had been taken from the museum he had loaned them to:

I felt literally my knees buckle from underneath. I had had them and took care of them for over 35 years.

Rhys Thomas, author of The Ruby Slippers of Oz, has commented that:

The ruby slippers are the holy grail of all Hollywood memorabilia.

According to Thomas, each pair is "valued in the millions." The last pair of ruby slippers sold were traded at a private auction for a whopping $2 million.

Special Agent Christopher Dudley made a statement, saying:

So many people of all ages around the world have seen 'The Wizard of Oz' and in that way have some connection to the slippers. That's one of the things that makes this case resonate with so many.

According to Dudley, an individual approached the museum last year claiming to have information on the slipper's whereabouts. A year-long investigation by the FBI revealed this was actually part of a scheme by the robbers to "extort the owners of the slippers."

The FBI is working to track down all parties "involved with the initial theft" before releasing the names of their numerous suspects.

Dorothy could have given these robbers some sound advice: having those ruby slippers often causes more trouble than they're worth.


H/T - NBC News, NPR

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