Newly Recovered ‘Wizard of Oz’ Ruby Slippers Head to Auction

The shoes were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in 2005.

Ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz (1939). Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions /

In August 2005, a pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland during the filming of The Wizard of Oz (1939) was stolen from its display case in the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota. The pair was one of many Garland wore during the filming, and belonged to the collector Michael Shaw, who had loaned the slippers to the museum for its annual Judy Garland Festival. All that remained in the case after the theft was a lone red sequin.

The slippers were designed by Gilbert Adrian, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s chief costume designer, for the adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s Oz series of children’s novels written in the early 20th century. In Baum’s novel, the slippers were silver, but were made red for the film in order to showcase the newly developed Technicolor technology, which had been used for the first time in a feature-length film in 1935.

Close up of a pair of sequined shoes, the inside lining of which reads "Judy Garland."

Detail of the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz (1939). Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions /

Five pairs of slippers made for the film are believed to survive, with Shaw’s being the highest quality pair, because it was used for close-up shots including the iconic moments in which Dorothy Gale clicks her heels to return home to Kansas. Shaw was himself a child actor working for MGM, and purchased them from a Hollywood costumer, recalling to the Los Angeles Times that he told the costumer at the time, “if I never owned another possession, I’d be happy.”

Following a 13-year search and a million-dollar reward, the FBI and Grand Rapids Police Department recovered the ruby slippers in 2018. The shoes were compared by conservators to a pair held in the Smithsonian Museum to ensure their authenticity. The Smithsonian pair was donated to the museum anonymously in 1979 and has become such a popular tourist attraction that the museum has apparently had to replace the carpet around the display several times due to wear and tear.

A grey-haired man, noticeably moved, standing beside a pair of sequined shoes.

Michael Shaw is reunited with his ruby slippers. Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions /

In 2023, a federal grand jury indicted a Minnesota man Terry Martin for the theft, for which he plead guilty. Court testimony revealed that Martin had never seen The Wizard of Oz, and that he had stolen the slippers believing that they were made with real rubies which he could sell on the black market. Martin is currently on hospice care for a terminal illness.

Shaw was reunited with his ruby slippers at a private ceremony at the Judy Garland Museum, saying “it’s like welcoming back an old friend I haven’t seen in years.”

Shaw has now consigned the slippers to Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, which will offer them at auction in December after an international tour. The slippers will be on public display in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Tokyo, before arriving back in the U.S. for the auction. “You cannot overstate the importance of Dorothy’s ruby slippers,” said the auction house’s executive vice president Joe Maddalena in a statement. “They are the most important prop in Hollywood history.”

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