After evading detection for 13 years since being stolen from a Minnesota museum, the world’s most recognizable shoes – the ruby-red slippers which were worn by Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” – on Tuesday came home again.
US authorities announced they had recovered the famous sequined shoes — one of four pairs worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 American classic film.
The shoes were snatched in the dead of night in 2005 from a shattered glass case at the Judy Garland Museum in the late actress’s birthplace of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
A $1 million reward had been offered for their return. But the culprit and the fate of the shoes had remained a mystery.
Unveiling the shoes — which appeared to be in good condition — in a glass case, authorities shed little light on what happened to the shoes, telling reporters only that they had recovered the famous pair and that there were “multiple suspects.”
The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington — which has another pair of Dorothy’s slippers on display — authenticated the recovered pair.
“It’s unbelievable,” Judy Garland Museum representative Sue Plagemann told AFP. “We never thought they’d be recovered. We thought they were lost forever.”
The trail had gone cold when local police contacted the FBI and a yearlong investigation began, leading to the recovery of the sippers during an undercover operation in Minneapolis, the FBI said.
Authorities said they wanted to ensure they had accounted for everyone involved in the theft and the subsequent concealment of the slippers through the years.
The stolen slippers were one of four known surviving pairs used in the film, and worn by Garland as she danced her way down the yellow-brick road.
“They’re more than just a pair of shoes,” said police chief Johnson. “They’re an enduring symbol of the power of belief.”