Idol Chatter

Dustin Gaffke |

Dustin Gaffke |

“There’s no place like home,” Dorothy said, and now her ruby slippers have finally been returned to their home after 13 long years. In August 2005, one of the four surviving pairs of Judy Garland’s iconic, sparkling shoes were stolen as part of a smash and grab robbery at the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The slippers were insured for $1 million and are estimated to be worth even more than that.

Both the shoes and the thieves eluded law enforcement for over a decade despite the large rewards attached to their return. Law enforcement had put out a bounty of $250,000 on any information that led to the return of the slippers, and an anonymous donor in Arizona offered a reward of $1 million to anyone who came forward with the location of the shoes and the names of the thieves that took them.

The bounties and long case led investigators to some unusual places including the inside of the Tioga Mine Pit in Itasca Country and the home of a San Diego man who falsely claimed to have the missing slippers. The big break in the case, however, came as the result of an extortion plot. Markel Corporation, the rightful owners of the slippers, was contacted as part of what appeared to be an extortion scheme. The police in Grand Rapids reached out to the FBI for help and conducted a sting operation.

The slippers were taken to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History to analyze and compare the recovered shoes to the pair already on display. There has not yet been, however, such a clean ending to the case as the thieves have not yet been charged, and their names have yet to be released.

The investigation leader, FBI Special Agent Christopher Dudley, said that they have multiple suspects but that law enforcement is “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.”

Similarly, U.S. Attorney for North Dakota Christ Myers said, “There’s information out there that could help this investigation move forward. This affects a number of jurisdictions and we hope that people come forward and provide us additional information, so we can reach that next step of this particular case.”

Anyone with information regarding the theft or the extortion plot is encouraged to contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or online at

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