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FBI recovers stolen ruby slippers from 'Wizard of Oz'

By
Daniel Uria
A pair of slippers, like the ones pictured above, worn by actress Judy Garland in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz were recovered by the FBI after being stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota. File Photo by Roger L. Wollenberg/UPI
A pair of slippers, like the ones pictured above, worn by actress Judy Garland in the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz" were recovered by the FBI after being stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota. File Photo by Roger L. Wollenberg/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 4 (UPI) -- The FBI recovered a pair of ruby slippers worn in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz after they were stolen from a Minnesota museum, the U.S. Department of Justice said Tuesday.

The slippers were recovered as part of a sting operation in Minneapolis earlier this summer after an attempt to defraud and extort the Markel Corp., which owns the slippers, the Justice Department announced.

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"At the heart of nearly every art crime, we see greed woven into the fabric of the scheme -- greed to take it, and greed to profit from its return," said Jill Sanborn, special agent in charge of the Minneapolis division of the FBI. "Dorothy's slippers are a treasured piece of Americana, and we are hoping members of the public can help us better fill in the details that will finish the script of this mystery so we can hold accountable all those who were behind the scheme."

The slippers are one of four known existing pairs worn by actress Judy Garland in the film and hold an estimated value of millions of dollars if sold at auction, the Justice Department said.

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The pair recovered by the FBI were known as the "traveling pair" and were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn., in 2005.

They weren't located until 2017 when the Grand Rapids Police Department reached out to the FBI for assistance when a plot to extort Markel emerged.

After the slippers were recovered in July, the FBI brought them to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., where conservators examined them to confirm their authenticity.

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"We were confident this day would eventually come, and we are grateful to the FBI and all those who worked to bring this piece of cinematic treasure out of the shadows and into the light. After all, there's no place like home," Grand Rapids Police Chief Scott Johnson said.

The FBI has identified suspects and multiple search warrants in Minnesota and Florida as part of the ongoing investigation and investigators have called on the public for assistance identifying all parties involved in the initial theft and the extortion attempt.

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