"They're gone!"

The infamous phrase former Executive Director, John Kelsch heard over the phone the morning after the slippers went missing. It was August 2005, a pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz" were on exhibit at our museum. Hollywood memorabilia collector and slipper owner, Michael Shaw lent them to the museum several times; on the 4th visit, they were mysteriously stolen with only a small sequin on the museum floor left as evidence.

After years of searching, in 2018 a sting operation orchestrated by the Grand Rapids Police Department with the Federal Bureau of Investigation led them to the stolen pair of slippers. The FBI took the slippers into evidence and vowed to find out "who done it."

In 2023, the FBI announced a suspect, Terry Jon Martin of the Grand Rapids area. He was sentenced on January 29th, 2024 and a then a 2nd arrest was made on March 30th, 2024 of Jerry Hal Saliterman with sentencing scheduled later this year.

On February 1st, 2024, the Judy Garland Museum hosted a private reunion of the ruby slippers with owner, Michael Shaw with the FBI and GRPD. At the reunion, Shaw announced he will be taking the ruby slippers on a world tour with Heritage Auctions with a live auction in December 2024. The Judy Garland Museum wants to be a bidder at that auction to be the final home for this particular pair of Ruby Slippers, a place where their namesakes, life and legacy is celebrated.

We are now offering a Ruby Slipper Theft Guided Tour with former director, John Kelsch on Fridays and Saturdays at 11am. Please pre-register on this site or call the museum to schedule.

A State-wide Effort to purchase the Slippers

The Minnesota Legacy Finance Bill, signed by Governor Tim Walz on May 17th, 2024 provided $100,000 in seed money to help us secure the slippers at the December 2024 auction. This grant is the beginning of a much larger capital drive. While we can't know the final amount to raise as they are being sold at auction, the FBI estimated their value at $3.5 million. Heritage Auctions and owner, Shaw, are out on a world-wide tour with the slippers to find bidders and promote the auction.

According to museum Executive Director Janie Heitz, "The purchase would benefit both the state and regional communities economically, pulling in substantial tourism dollars."

Be A Hero

Who wants to be a hero and help find these iconic slippers a home in Judy’s home state of Minnesota? We're calling on funders of all shapes and sizes to join us in this historic campaign. It's more than just acquiring a pair of slippers for Judy’s non-profit museum; it’s about celebrating the essence of home and happy endings.

Contact museum Executive Director, Janie Heitz at 218-327-9276 to learn how you can support this cause.

“These slippers are forever a part of Minnesota’s culture and history,” remarked Heitz. “We are a great home for this particular pair of slippers.”

A Story Captivating the World

Since their debut in 1939 in The Wizard of Oz, the ruby slippers have become a symbol of magic and home. Judy Garland, much like her character Dorothy Gale, was born in a small town in the Midwest – Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Her early years filled with dance and song on her parents’ vaudeville stage were fondly remembered by Garland herself.

The tale of the ruby slipper theft has captivated media outlets, podcasters, and filmmakers alike. Recently, the Judy Garland Museum signed a preliminary contract with Branded Entertainment LLC, to produce a feature film about the theft. Seth Gordon, a well-know documentary-maker, is actively filming an independently produced Ruby Slipper Theft documentary.

Once these documentaries and movies are released, people will be eager to visit the place where the theft happened. Having the stolen pair of slippers on exhibit at the museum would create a true Hollywood happy ending, echoing the kind of resolution Judy Garland herself sought throughout her life.

Judy Garland Festival 2024

Join us for this year’s annual Judy Garland Festival from June 20-23, 2024. This year's festival will feature a new exhibit and guided tour focusing on the ruby slipper theft. Along with that, we have an amazing line up of social gatherings, performers, presenters, and fun for Judy fans young and old.

Help us bring the Ruby Slippers home, where they belong. Read the article »