Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers Stolen Two Decades Ago To Go Up For Auction After Being Returned

“There’s no place like home.” That legendary line from “The Wizard of Oz” has new meaning after a pair of the iconic ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the classic film stolen nearly 20 years ago were finally returned to its owner. The emotional reunion took place during a private ceremony at the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

“It’s like welcoming back an old friend I haven’t seen in years,” collector Michael Shaw told Heritage Auctions in a media release.

Ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz."
Ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz.” (credit: Heritage Auctions)

However, Shaw’s reunion was short-lived as he has consigned the slippers to Heritage for an upcoming auction.

“You cannot overstate the importance of Dorothy’s ruby slippers: They are the most important prop in Hollywood history,” says Joe Maddalena, executive vice president of Heritage Auctions, about the slippers created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s chief costume designer Gilbert Adrian. “This pair is precious as it hails from the legendary collection of Michael Shaw, and we are honored he has partnered with Heritage. As TCM [Turner Classic Movies] host Ben Mankiewicz once said, these slippers ‘symbolize hope,’ and we’re thrilled they will journey down the yellow brick road to the auction block to a new home.”

Before hitting the auction block in December, the slippers will embark on an international tour, making stops in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Tokyo. This tour will celebrate their return to the public eye after a long absence.

Ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz."
Ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz.” (credit: Heritage Auctions)

Shaw’s pair of ruby slippers were used for close-up shots when Dorothy clicked her heals and are of higher quality than the slippers featured at Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

Shaw’s slippers were initially stolen from the Judy Garland Museum on Aug. 28, 2005. Shaw was allowing the museum to borrow the “traveling pair” of ruby slippers for its annual Judy Garland Festival.

Despite a $1 million reward, the case went cold until a sting operation in 2018 led to their recovery. The FBI’s comparison with another pair at the Smithsonian confirmed their authenticity, culminating in a media conference unveiling in September 2018.

The saga took another turn with the indictment of Terry Martin in May 2023. Martin, who had never seen “The Wizard of Oz,” confessed to stealing the slippers, thinking the sequins were real rubies. His inability to sell them on the black market led to the eventual recovery and return to Shaw.

“This is a day that is years in the making, a real-life Hollywood ending,” says Maddalena. “It took an ensemble cast of law enforcement professionals giving the performance of a lifetime — and their coordination, cooperation and commitment restored the ruby slippers to their rightful owner. As we all look forward to the next chapter in their storied history, to their journey across the auction block, we are reminded of what these legendary objects are and what they represent: an iconic piece of our collective history, an enduring symbol of the magic of storytelling and an ever-shimmering reminder that dreams are best in Technicolor.”

Brian Chanes (left), Heritage Auctions’ Senior Director of Hollywood & Entertainment, and Michael Shaw, the owner of the ruby slippers that were recovered and returned by FBI agents earlier this year.
Brian Chanes (left), Heritage Auctions’ Senior Director of Hollywood & Entertainment, and Michael Shaw, the owner of the ruby slippers that were recovered and returned by FBI agents earlier this year. (Credit: Josh David Jordan/Heritage Auctions)

Only four pairs of Dorothy’s ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” are known to have survived.

According to The Memorabilia Club, another pair of ruby slippers sold for $6.6 million in 2018. Other multimillion-dollar memorabilia items from “The Wizard of Oz” include the Cowardly Lion costume ($3.1 million), Scarecrow costume ($2.03 million), Dorothy’s dress ($1.56 million) and Tin Man costume ($1.4 million).

Matt Higgins contributed to this report.

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