Red "Ruby Slippers," worn by Judy Garland as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, on display at the National Museum of American History in Washington, Nov. 19, 2008. (UPI Photo/Roger L. Wollenberg) | License Photo
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Hollywood's Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences says actor Leonardo DiCaprio helped it buy the ruby slippers worn in "The Wizard of Oz."
Joe Maddalena, owner of Profiles in History in Los Angeles, said Wednesday he arranged the sale of the iconic props. He did not mention how much the academy paid for them.
"They are the Holy Grail of all Hollywood memorabilia," Rhys Thomas, expert and author of "The Ruby Slippers of Oz," said in a statement.
"Far more than just a pair of red-sequined shoes, they are an indelible icon of a uniquely American fairy tale," Thomas said. "And of the four pairs of authentic ruby slippers known to exist, this pair offered by Profiles in History, marked 'No. 7 Judy Garland' and known as the 'Witch's Shoes,' are the most important and most valuable. Without question, they are the 'close-up' shoes, worn by Garland when she clicks her heels three times. They are the 'Take me home to Kansas,' shoes, transcending Hollywood, representing an enduring symbol of the power of belief."
Three other pairs of screen-used ruby slippers are known to have survived the 70-plus years since the movie was made. One set is in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, one is owned by a private collector and one was stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn.
The academy said DiCaprio led a group of "angel donors," including director Steven Spielberg, whose gifts to the Academy Foundation enabled the purchase.
"Leo's passionate leadership has helped us bring home this legendary piece of movie history," Academy Chief Executive Officer Dawn Hudson said. "It's a wonderful gift to the academy museum project, and a perfect representation of the work we do year-round to preserve and share our film heritage."