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

One of the original pair of iconic ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in "The Wizard of Oz" disappeared in 2005. The mystery had been the subject of numerous investigations, documentaries and even a podcast series. 

The iconic shoes were recovered in 2018 in an FBI sting, but the mystery remained of who stole the ruby slippers from The Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota and how they got away with it. 

Now, some of those answers may be imminent after a 76-year-old man was indicted this week, the first charges in the case.

Terry J. Martin was indicted Tuesday with one count of theft of a major artwork, according to U.S. Justice Department officials. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that Martin is 76 and lives 12 miles south of the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. 

The indictment and news release by the Justice Department do not give details about how the crime was allegedly committed and who and where the shoes were held before the 2018 recovery. They do say the charges stem from the initial federal investigation of the ruby slippers. 

Officials said that in 2005, Martin stole an authentic pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 film, “The Wizard of Oz,” from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. 

In 2005, the slippers were on loan from a private collector to the museum when overnight, someone came through a museum window, broke the display case and took the shoes. At the time, the ruby slippers were insured for $1 million, according to law enforcement, but are estimated to be worth $3.5 million today.

The insurance was paid out to owner Michael Shaw seven years after the theft. 

According to the Judy Garland Museum, the ruby slippers will remain with the FBI as they have been. "The insurance company owns the slippers," museum staff posted on its official Facebook page. "Until the court cases are done, nothing can be done with them. They will stay in FBI evidence until all proceedings are complete."

Film fans know that several pairs of slippers were used throughout the classic movie, but only four pairs are known to exist today (at least, authenticated pairs). Besides the stolen Judy Garland Museum pair, the others are held by by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Smithsonian and another private collector.

Podcast: More background on the slippers and theft

According to the Academy Museum, the shoes were part of the movies costume design by famous Hollywood costumer Adrian and manufactured by the Innes Shoe Company in California.

Ruby slippers in the Academy Museum collection

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