Dorothy’s Recovered ‘Wizard of Oz’ Ruby Slippers Head to the Auction Block

The sequined shoes are expected to sell for up to $5 million this December.

Pair of red sequined slippers
The slippers were infamously stolen nearly two decades ago. Courtesy Heritage Auctions

After being the subject of a 2005 heist and subsequent FBI recovery, a pair of red ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz is set to find a new home.

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The iconic movie prop will be sold this December with Heritage Auctions, a Dallas-based auction house, after going on an international tour across Los Angeles, New York, London and Tokyo. The sale will bookend a lengthy saga over the famed slippers, which went missing for more than a decade before a 2018 sting operation brought them home.

“It took an ensemble cast of law enforcement professionals giving the performance of a lifetime—and their coordination, cooperation and commitment restored the ruby slippers to their rightful owner,” said Joe Maddalena, Heritage’s executive vice president, in a statement. “As we all look forward to the next chapter in their storied history, to their journey across the auction block, we are reminded of what these legendary objects are and what they represent: an iconic piece of our collective history, an enduring symbol of the magic of storytelling and an ever-shimmering reminder that dreams are best in Technicolor.”

Man in brown corduroy jacket looks down at red slippers
Collector Michael Shaw was reunited with the shoes earlier this year. Courtesy Heritage Auctions

The shoes are one of four surviving pairs used in 1939’s Wizard of Oz. Two are on view at the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles, while another remains in a private collection.

The fourth pair was acquired in 1970 by Michael Shaw, a memorabilia collector and former child actor who purchased the shoes from Hollywood costumer Kent Warner. Shaw was “thrilled to pieces” to receive the slippers, he told The Los Angeles Times in 1988, adding that he told Warner “that if I never owned another possession, I’d be happy.”

In 2005, he loaned the red shoes to the Judy Garland Museum, located in the actress’s restored childhood home in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, for a 10-week visit. But on August 28 of that year, someone snuck into the museum, shattered the slippers’ plexiglass case and made off with the famous footwear.

The miraculous recovery of Dorothy’s ruby slippers

The case went cold for years, despite a million-dollar reward. In July of 2018, however, the FBI and Grand Rapids police department teamed up to recover the shoes in an undercover operation in Minneapolis. It took another five years for charges to be brought against local resident Terry Martin, who was indicted in May 2023 and later pled guilty to stealing the slippers.

Martin later said he had never seen The Wizard of Oz and only took the shoes because he thought its sequins were made of genuine rubies that could be sold on the black market. In January, he was sentenced to time served due to declining health. Another local resident who allegedly assisted him, Jerry Hal Saliterman, was also charged with theft earlier this month.

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As for Dorothy’s ruby slippers, their authenticity was confirmed by conservators at the Smithsonian Museum of American History who compared the shoes to their own pair. They were finally reunited with Shaw in February during a private ceremony at the Judy Garland Museum. “It’s like welcoming back an old friend I haven’t seen in years,” said a teary-eyed Shaw, who consigned the slippers to Heritage Auctions, during the reunion.

The Judy Garland Museum has expressed its interest in acquiring the shoes permanently, with officials telling KARE that they are “working diligently” to enable the museum to purchase them at auction. Minnesota lawmakers are reportedly considering a bill that would allocate funds to the Minnesota Historical Society to purchase the shoes and display them at Garland’s childhood house.

Acquiring the slippers will cost any buyer a pretty penny. The footwear is expected to sell for between $3 million and $5 million, according to Maddalena. “Then again, given their significance, they could—and should—go much higher,” he said. “After all, they’re priceless.”

Dorothy’s Recovered ‘Wizard of Oz’ Ruby Slippers Head to the Auction Block