The FBI has announced they’ve recovered a pair of Dorothy’s ruby slippers from MGM’s 1939 The Wizard of Oz classic, which have been missing since they were stolen over a decade ago.
The shoes were jacked from the Judy Garland Museum in 2005, when thieves smashed the plexiglass case where they were displayed. The Washington Post
explained the slippers actually belong to a collector named Michael Shaw, who loaned them annually to the museum; “Museum officials wanted to keep the slippers in a safe every night, but Shaw didn’t want other people touching the delicate artifact. So Shaw delivered the slippers himself and placed them in the Plexiglass case.” Oops!
All that was left behind? JUST. ONE. SEQUIN. (According to CBS.)
And so, CBS reported, the Grand Rapids police played the long game:
“The police department really had no evidence and no clues to work with,” he said. “The investigator assigned to the case was fearful that the thief might destroy the slippers if he believed the police were on his trail. Therefore, when rumors developed that local wayward youth were most likely responsible for the theft and had tossed the slippers into the Mississippi River or in one of the many water filled iron ore pits that dot the landscape, we did little to dispel it. We believed that information would eventually surface and knew we were in this for the long haul.” Stein added that officers investigated tips over the years, but many led to reproductions of the slippers, not the real thing.
They haven’t said yet how exactly they got to the slippers, but they’re now in the hands of the FBI.
While MGM’s costume made several pairs, there’s four known to still be knocking around. Via the Post:
One pair was found in the basement of MGM’s wardrobe department in 1970. An anonymous buyer bought it at an auction for $15,000 and donated it to the Smithsonian in 1979. The pair was removed from display in April 2017 to be preserved. The Smithsonian raised nearly $350,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to pay for the shoes’ restoration. They will be back on display in October.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Steven Spielberg bought one other pair for display at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Another pair is owned by a private collector.
Once again we are reminded that if you are going to steal something, don’t steal anything famous, because it’s too goddamn hard to unload.