Stolen ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” returned to owner in ceremony at Minnesota’s

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MINNEAPOLIS — The FBI returned a pair of ruby slippers from the 1939 film classic “The Wizard of Oz” to a man nearly 20 years after the iconic shoes were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids.

Michael Shaw, a Los Angeles-based acting coach, bought the slippers from an MGM costumer in 1969 and loaned the pair to the museum decades later, according to a 2008 interview he did with Forbes.

In 2005, a thief broke into the museum and stole them.

“I’m still furious,” Shaw told Forbes. “For so many people, they represented home, love and childhood and security. That’s what people saw when they looked at the slippers. And now they’re gone.”

“A heartfelt reunion with a long-lost friend”

The pair were recovered in 2018 during a sting operation in Minneapolis, with Shaw remarking to investigators soon after that the pair were still in “pristine” condition.

RELATED: Grand Rapids Residents Rejoice Following Recovery Of ‘Oz’ Slippers

Hollywood historians believe seven pairs of ruby slippers were made for the film, with four still in existence. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, which possesses one of the pairs, authenticated the recovered pair for the FBI.

That pair was recently returned to Shaw in a ceremony at the museum, located in Garland’s hometown. The FBI says when Shaw and his niece saw the shoes for the first time in decades, Shaw likened it “to a heartfelt reunion with a long-lost friend.”

Stolen Ruby Slippers

Jeff Baenen / AP


“It was incredibly rewarding and fitting to see Mr. Shaw reunited with the Ruby Slippers, at Judy Garland’s home, accompanied by his friends on the museum staff,” said FBI Special Agent Dudley. “It is a privilege for the FBI and our Art Crime Team to work alongside law enforcement partners who truly value the importance of protecting our nation’s cultural heritage.”

The FBI says Dudley also gave Shaw a single red sequin the thief left behind inside the museum.

John Kelsh, the museum’s founding director, called the ceremony a healing moment.

“The Judy Garland Museum survived the impact of this violation and is grateful to be a part of the homecoming,” Kelsh said.

Kelsh said the museum is currently working on an exhibit about the theft.

Two suspects charged, one convicted

In June 2023, 76-year-old Terry Jon Martin pleaded not guilty to one count of theft of a major artwork, but then changed his plea to guilty in October. Court documents characterized Martin as a “reformed mobster” who stole the shoes as “one last score.”

The Grand Rapids resident was sentenced earlier this year to time served due to poor health, plus a year of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay the museum $23,000 in restitution. Martin is currently in hospice care.

On Sunday, it was revealed a second man — 76-year-old Jerry Saliterman, of Crystal — was also charged with artwork theft in connection to the slippers’ disappearance, as well as one count of witness tampering, according to unsealed court documents. It’s unclear how, or if, Saliterman is connected to Martin.

Kelsh told the Associated Press that an auction house now possesses Shaw’s pair and plans to sell them. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says the pair’s estimated market value is $3.5 million.

NOTE: The original airdate of the video attached to this article is March 17, 2024. 

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