There is no place like home, and The Wizard of Oz ruby slippers are finally returning home 13 years after they were stolen.
According to CNN, a pair of ruby red slippers originally worn by actress Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz have been found 13 years after they were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Garland's hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, in 2005. While details of their recovery have not yet been made, the shoes were discovered earlier this summer, Sgt. Robert Stein said in a statement.
A pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, and stolen from the actress’ namesake museum in Minnesota more than a decade ago, has been recovered: //t.co/5HsUe163VF pic.twitter.com/edKUFiwWpf— FBI (@FBI) September 4, 2018
"From the outset, our top priority was the safe recovery of the slippers," Special Agent Christopher Dudley explained during a news conference held Tuesday afternoon. "We are still working to ensure that we have identified all parties involved in both the initial theft and the more recent extortion attempt for their return. This is very much an active investigation."
The ruby slippers, one of four remaining pairs that Garland had worn while filming the classic film and estimated to be worth around $2 million or $3 million, were on loan to the Judy Garland Museum by owner Michael Shaw at the time they were stolen. The theft happened "sometime between 5:45 p.m. on August 27th and 9:45 a.m. on August 28th," a Grand Rapids Police Department news release said, and the burglar managed to get away without leaving anything more than a single red sequin behind.
Getting the slippers back home took a lot more than just following the yellow brick road. The theft of the slippers led to a million-dollar reward offered by a Wizard of Oz fan in Arizona, a wide search, and even an episode of Discovery Channel's Expedition Unknown, which saw host Josh Gates attempting to find the slippers deep in a lake.
"They're the symbol of the longing for home — a symbol of a sense of place. Of any artifact from the movie, they touch that emotion in people," John Kelsch, the executive director of the Judy Garland Museum, told the Star Tribune in 2016. "France has the Mona Lisa. America has The Wizard of Oz. It's our national masterpiece, so much a part of the American experience."
Along with the recovered pair of slippers, three other pairs exist, including a pair that currently resides at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, which launched a Kickstarter with the goal of raising $300,000 to restore the slippers to their ruby color.
Another pair was sold to a private collector for $165,000 at a 1988 auction after they had been won by a Tennessee schoolteacher. The third pair was purchased with the help of Leonardo DiCaprio to be displayed at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
The investigation into the ruby slippers' disappearance and recovery is still ongoing and it is not yet known if anyone will be charged. It is believed that there are still others who "have additional knowledge regarding both the theft and the individuals responsible" for the crime.