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Man charged with stealing ruby slippers from 'The Wizard of Oz'

Federal prosecutors say the man stole the slippers nearly 20 years ago from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
Posted at 2:29 PM, May 18, 2023

A federal grand jury has indicted a Minnesota man on charges of stealing a pair of ruby red slippers that were famously worn by Judy Garland's character Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz."

Federal prosecutors in North Dakota say Terry Martin stole the illustrious slippers back in 2005 from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The burglar reportedly broke into the museum through a back door window. No alarms were triggered and no fingerprints were found at the scene. 

Richard Tsong-Taatarii / Star Tribune via AP

The shoes were finally recovered in a 2018 sting operation following an investigation by the FBI and Grand Rapids Police Department. No arrests were made at the time but the FBI said they were looking at multiple suspects. 

Garland wore several pairs of the ruby slippers throughout filming of the historic 1939 musical, but only four authentic pairs remain and they are considered among the most recognizable memorabilia in American movie history. The three other pairs are currently held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Smithsonian Institution, and a private collector.

When they were stolen, the slippers were insured for $1 million, but now have an appraised value of $3.5 million, federal prosecutors said in a press release. For reference, Michael Jordan's iconic game-worn Air Jordan Retro XIII shoes from game two of the 1998 NBA Finals just sold last month for a record-breaking $2.2 million.

Martin is charged with one count of theft of major artwork and faces up to 10 years in prison if he is convicted. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of North Dakota said it had no additional comment at this time because the case is ongoing.