They are the world's most recognizable shoes, but have somehow evaded detection for 13 years, since being stolen from a Minnesota museum.
The slippers were on loan to the Judy Garland Museum in the late actress' hometown of Grand Rapids when they were taken in 2005 by someone who climbed through a window and broke into a small display case.
"I$3 nvestigators are seeking the public's help to identify all parties associated with the initial theft and the more recent scheme to defraud and extort the Markel Corporation, the owner of the slippers", authorities said. Investigators estimated that the heist took only seconds. The investigator assigned to the case was fearful that the thief might destroy the slippers if he believed the police were on his trail.
Interestingly, while the Federal Bureau of Investigation has executed search warrants in both Minnesota and Florida and identified suspects (they did not name them), they still haven't figured out everything about the theft and apparent extortion plot. As the story goes, Kent Warner found several pairs on a dusty shelf and took one to the famed MGM Studios auction in 1970. Examination of the recovered shoes showed that their construction, materials, and wear are consistent with the pair in the museum's collection, which were donated to the museum by an anonymous donor in 1979. Museum officials wanted to keep the slippers in a safe every night, but Shaw didn't want other people touching the delicate artifact. One pair was bought by Leonardo DiCaprio and Steven Spielberg, who displayed them at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, while another pair reside at the Smithsonian. The burglar then smashed a Plexiglass case where the slippers were and got away with them.
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"They have a festival up at the museum every year, right around Judy's birthday, and they chose to send a team of divers underwater to search for the shoes".
"After all", Johnson added, "there's no place like home".
The theft of the slippers led to a million-dollar reward offered by a Wizard of Oz fan in Arizona, in addition to an an underwater search by the Itasca County Sheriff's Dive Team in 2015, according to KSTP.
Journalist based in Charlotte, North Carolina, whose work has appeared in The Charlotte Observer, Creative Loafing, and more.