A man has been charged with stealing a pair of ruby red slippers worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz”, federal prosecutors in North Dakota. The shoes were stolen in 2005 and recovered in 2018 by the FBI, but no arrests were made at the time.
Terry Martin was indicted by a grand jury on Tuesday with one count of theft of a major artwork. The indictment alleges that in 2005, Martin stole an authentic pair of shoes that Garland’s character, Dorothy, wore in the 1939 MGM movie musical.
The indictment did not provide further personal information about Martin and official have not said what led investigators to finally file charges. Online records do not list an attorney for him.
The slippers were taken from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, the late actress’ hometown, and are one of the four remaining pairs of red slippers Garland wore during production.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that Martin is 76 years old. When reached by the newspaper, he said, “I gotta go on trial. I don’t want to talk to you,” according to ABC news.
Janie Heitz, executive director of the museum, was surprised the suspect lived so close but said no one who works at the museum knows him. Heitz said the museum staff hopes the slippers will be returned to Grand Rapids after the legal case ends.
When the ruby red slippers were stolen, they were insured for $1 million, but the current market value is about $3.5 million, federal prosecutors said in a news release. The slippers were on loan to the Judy Garland museum when someone climbed through a window and broke the display case, AP news reports.
Over the years, enticing rewards were offered in hopes the slippers would turn up, Law enforcement offered $250,000 early in the case and an anonymous donor put up $1 million in 2015.
The shoes are famously associated with the classic phrase, “There’s no place like home.” and are made from a dozen different materials, including wood pulp, silk thread, gelatin, plastic, and glass. The famous ruby color comes from the sequins, but the bows of the shoes contain red glass beads.
The three other pairs of the ruby red slippers Garland wore in the movie were held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Smithsonian, and a private collector.