After 13 years of being away from home, the FBI announced today (Sept. 4) that a stolen pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz have been recovered.
A sting operation spearheaded by the Minneapolis branch of the FBI brought an essential piece of pop culture memorabilia back to Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Judy Garland’s childhood home and the site of the Judy Garland Museum — where the shoes were held before their theft in 2005.
The pair of ruby slippers was originally insured for $1 million, and has since been valued by the Judy Garland Museum for upwards of $2 million since it was forcibly removed from the museum, according to a 2015 story from the Associated Press. (One especially passionate fan offered $1 million for the slippers’ whereabouts in 2015.)
Though there were multiple pairs of slippers used in the production of the legendary 1939 musical, four slippers used in filming are known to currently exist. In addition to the recently recovered pair, one is currently housed in the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., another purchased by a consortium of movie lovers (chief among them Leonardo DiCaprio) that will be on display upon the opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in 2019, and another in possession by a private collector. The estate of actress Debbie Reynolds owns another pair that were used only in screen tests.
After the pair were procured in Minneapolis earlier this summer, they were verified by Smithsonian curators — who compared them to the pair held in the museum, and confirmed their resemblance to one another.
But the case still isn’t over. Special Agent Christopher Dudley, who led the investigation into the missing ruby-red slippers, still believes that there are people at large with information pertaining to the case.
“Recovering a cultural item of this importance is significant,” said Dudley in an FBI statement. “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. That’s one of the things that makes this case resonate with so many.”