A grand jury has indicted a man for stealing a pair of ruby red slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz.
The shoes were stolen in 2005 and recovered by an FBI undercover operation in 2018, but no arrests were made at the time.
A grand jury indicted Terry Martin on one count of theft of a major work of art, North Dakota federal prosecutors announced Wednesday.
Garland wore several pairs of ruby slippers during the production of the 1939 musical, but only four authentic pairs remain. The slippers were insured for $1 million when they were stolen, but the current market value is about $3.5 million, federal prosecutors said in a news release.
The slippers were on loan to the Judy Garland Museum in the late actor’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, when someone climbed through a window and broke the display case, prosecutors said when they were recovered. Over the years, several tempting rewards have been offered waiting for the slippers to appear, including an anonymous donor from Arizona who chipped in $1 million.
The path to the lost slippers began when a man told the shoes’ insurer in 2017 that he could help get them back. After a nearly year-long investigation, the FBI seized the shoes in Minneapolis in July 2018. At the time, the bureau said no one had been arrested or charged in the case.
On Wednesday, a summons was issued for Martin. An initial court appearance has been set for June 1, and it will be via video. Terry Van Horn, a spokesman for the US Department of Justice in North Dakota, said he could provide no information other than that included in the indictment.
The shoes are associated with one of the iconic lines from The Wizard of Oz, as Garland’s character Dorothy slams her heels together and repeats the line “There’s no place like home.”
They were made of about a dozen different materials, including wood pulp, silk thread, gelatin, plastic, and glass. Most of the ruby color comes from the sequins, but the laces on the shoes contain red glass beads.
When they were stolen, the slippers were on loan from Hollywood memorabilia collector Michael Shaw. The other three pairs worn by Garland in the film were held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Smithsonian, and a private collector.