Stolen ‘Wizard of Oz’ slippers found after 13 years

No place like the rightful home: Stolen ruby slippers from 'Wizard of Oz' recovered by FBI

Federal authorities say they have recovered a pair of sequined ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in "The Wizard of Oz" that were stolen from a museum in her northern Minnesota hometown 13 years ago. The FBI then took over and the the shoes were recovered in Minneapolis, Grand Rapids Herald Review reports.

In a Tuesday press release, Special Agent in Charge of the Minneapolis Division of the FBI Jill Sanborn announced that the shoes were seized in a sting operation this summer.

The shoes that were used in close-up shots of Dorothy clicking her heels were insured for a million dollars.

The slippers are one of four known surviving pairs worn by the actress during filming of the beloved 1939 classic.

Three other pairs that Garland wore in the movie are held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Smithsonian and a private collector.

FBI Dawn Wallace, a conservator for the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, analyzes one of the recovered slippers at the Smithsonian's Conservation Lab in Washington, D.C.

Michael Shaw, the slippers' owner who loaned them to the museum, told the Duluth News Tribune in 2005 the theft was "the worst nightmare for me", and that he was "devastated" by the theft. Shaw rejected the museum's offer to store them in a vault each night because he didn't want people handling the delicate shoes by moving them daily, he said in the documentary.

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A $1 million reward was offered on the 10th anniversary of the theft in 2015 by an anonymous Arizona-based fan, and the Grand Rapids Police Department received more than 40 tips about the stolen slippers. "They're an enduring symbol of the power of belief", Grand Rapids Police Chief Scott Johnson told reporters.

"This is a significant milestone, so we wanted to share that today", Sanborn said, noting the typically tight-lipped agency was breaking with its standard procedure by publicizing an ongoing investigation.

Johnson said his investigation has been further complicated by the fact that there have been many reproductions made over the years, requiring that the authenticity of the slippers be verified by experts.

There's no place like home. In 1970, a costumer named Kent Warner found them and sold off several pairs of the slippers.

The news that the shoes had been stolen crushed Shaw at the time. 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.

"We believed that information would eventually surface and knew we were in this for the long haul", Stein said.

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