Federal Bureau of Investigation recovers stolen 'Wizard of Oz' slippers

Stolen Wizard of Oz ruby slippers recovered after 13-year search

They are the world's most recognizable shoes, but have somehow evaded detection for 13 years, since being stolen from a Minnesota museum.

This April 10, 1996, file photo shows one of the four pairs of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 film.

But in 2017, someone approached the company that insured the shoes saying they had information on the slippers' whereabouts and how they could be returned, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

It was a classic smash-and-grab in August 2005: Some unknown thief or thieves broke in through the back door of the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn., and swiped the slippers, reportedly leaving nothing but broken glass and a single red sequin in their wake. The question is: Who do they return them to?

The search for the famous ruby heels, which Garland wore while playing Dorothy, has taken investigators to a collector's mansion in San Diego and to the bottom of the Tioga Mine Pit, just outside Grand Rapids. Leonardo DiCaprio and director Steven Spielberg privately acquired one of the pairs in 2012 for eventual display inside the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures when it opens in 2019. In 1970, a costumer named Kent Warner found them and sold off several pairs of the slippers.

When it became apparent to the Grand Rapids police "that those involved were in reality attempting to extort the owners of the slippers", authorities requested the FBI's assistance, explained special agent Christopher Dudley, who led the investigation from the FBI's Minneapolis division, during a Tuesday press conference. One pair has been on display in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington since 1979. 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. So Shaw delivered the slippers himself and placed them in the Plexiglas case.

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The shoes are famously connected to the line, "There's no place like home".

One long-running theory held that local kids had stolen the slippers, then got scared and threw them into a nearby abandoned mine pit.

That year, a wealthy fan of the movie volunteered to give $1 million to the person who could help find the missing slippers.

"There's nothing bigger than the ruby slippers", said White in 2015.

Journalist based in Charlotte, North Carolina, whose work has appeared in The Charlotte Observer, Creative Loafing, and more.

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