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Residents of Judy Garland’s hometown of Grand Rapids raise money to buy stolen ruby ​​slippers from ‘Wizard of Oz’

The Minnesota hometown of Judy Garland, the actress who wore a pair of ruby ​​slippers in “The Wizard of Oz,” is raising money to buy the prized footwear after it was stolen from a local museum and later turned over to an auction company.

Grand Rapids, Minnesota, where the late actress was born in 1922, is raising money during the annual Judy Garland Festival, which kicks off Thursday. The northern Minnesota city is asking for donations to bring back the slippers after an auction company takes them on an international tour before offering them to potential buyers in December.

“They could sell for $1 million, they could sell for $10 million. They’re priceless,” Joe Maddalena, executive vice president of Heritage Auctions, told Minnesota Public Radio. “Once they’re gone, all the money in the world can’t buy them back.”

The funds will supplement the This year, Minnesota lawmakers set aside $100,000 to purchase the slippers.

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Heritage Auctions of Dallas received the slippers from Michael Shaw, the memorabilia collector who originally owned the iconic shoes. Shaw had loaned them to the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

That summer, someone smashed a display case and stole the slippers covered in sequins and beads. Their whereabouts remained a mystery until the FBI recovered them in 2018.

Stolen ruby ​​slippers

Jeff Baenen/AP


The man who stole the slippers Terry Jon MartinThe 76-year-old pleaded guilty in October to the theft of a major work of art and admitted using a hammer to smash the glass of the museum door and display case. According to his lawyer, this was an attempt to get “one last score” after turning away from the museum. a life of crime. He was sentenced to prison in January due to his poor health.

A second man, aged 76, followed in March Jerry Hal Salitermanwas charged in connection with the theft.

The ruby ​​slippers were at the heart of “The Wizard of Oz,” a beloved 1939 musical. Garland’s character, Dorothy, danced down the Yellow Brick Road in her shiny shoes, accompanied by the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion.

Garland, who died in 1969, wore several pairs during filming. There are only four left.

Maddalena, of Heritage Auctions, says he has sold two more pairs of ruby ​​slippers. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio and a group of the actor’s friends bought a set for the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences.

Advance notice could help venues like the Judy Garland Museum secure the slippers that will be auctioned in December, he said. The museum that includes the house where Garland lived says it has the world’s largest collection of Garland and “Wizard of Oz” memorabilia.

“We wanted to give places that wouldn’t normally be able to raise the money so quickly the opportunity to have enough time to think about it and work out ways to do that,” Maddalena said. ‘That would be a great story. I mean, if they ended up there, that would be a great story.”

NOTE: The original air date of the video for this article is May 14, 2024.

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