Minnesota man indicted for alleged theft of ruby slippers from 'Wizard of Oz'

The shoes were recovered by the FBI and police in a sting operation in 2018.

May 17, 2023, 6:43 PM

A federal grand jury indicted a Minnesota man on Tuesday for allegedly stealing a pair of the ruby slippers that actress Judy Garland famously wore playing Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz."

Federal prosecutors allege that Terry Martin stole the iconic slippers in 2005 from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota -- one of only four remaining pairs worn by Garland in the 1939 film.

The shoes were ensured at a $1 million valuation at the time they were stolen, prosecutors said, but their current market appraisal could price them around roughly $3.5 million, according to estimates.

The shoes were recovered by the FBI and Grand Rapids police in a sting operation in July of 2018, the Justice Department said.

The charges against Martin are the result of a long-running federal investigation launched following the initial disappearance of the shoes.

The ruby slippers are shown in a scene from the 1939 movie "The Wizard of Oz."
MGM via Kobal via Shutterstock

The U.S. Attorney's Office in North Dakota provided no further details on Martin's background or his role in the alleged theft of the slippers and the office says they are declining to comment further at this time, citing the ongoing case.

Martin faces one count of theft of an object of cultural heritage from the care, custody or control of a museum, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison if he is convicted.

Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, and Ray Bolger are shown in a scene from the 1939 movie "The Wizard of Oz."
MGM via Moviestore via Shutterstock.

At this time, Martin does not have an attorney listed for him on his court docket.

That pair was one of several custom-made for the role of Dorothy in the film.

In the classic film, Garland, as Dorothy, is seen clicking her heels of the ruby slippers together and saying the famous phrase, "There's no place like home," which the American Film Institute considers one of the 100 greatest movie quotes of all time.

Private collectors own at least two existing pairs, including a pair jointly acquired by Leonardo DiCaprio and Steven Spielberg for display at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

ABC News' Emily Shapiro and Karma Allen contributed to this report.