The authentic ruby slippers featured in the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz have been recovered 13 years after being stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, and now we know how.
Jill Sanborn, special agent in charge of the FBI Minneapolis, say the famous slippers were recovered in an undercover sting operation in Minneapolis in July.
The location of the sting has not been revealed, but officials say they were put onto the scent 2017, when it emerged that someone was attempting to defraud and extort the Markel Corporation, the insurance company that owns the slippers.
"In the summer of 2017, 12 years after the theft, an individual approached the company that insured the slippers, saying he had information about the shoes and how they could be returned.
"When it became apparent that those involved were in reality attempting to extort the owners of the slippers," Special Agent Christopher Dudley said, the Grand Rapids PD called the FBI.
The North Dakota U.S. Attorney's Office is also involved in the investigation, though U.S. Attorney Chris Meyers could not reveal what role his office is playing and why.
"Although multiple suspects have been identified," Dudley said, “we are 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.”
Anyone with information should call the FBI on 1-800-225-5324.
The authenticity of the slippers was verified by the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in D.C., which confirmed it as one of four pairs of slippers worn by Garland in the classic movie.
Fortunately, despite 13 years in hiding, the slippers look to be in top condition.
And regardless of the case not being completely solved, Judy Garland's hometown is happy to have their famous apparel back in safe hands.
"When the slippers were snatched in the early morning burglary, the thieves not only took the slippers, they took a piece of history that will be forever connected to Grand Rapids and one of our city's most famous children," said Grand Rapids Police Chief Scott Johnson.
"We were confident this day would eventually come, and we are grateful to the FBI and all those who worked to bring this piece of cinematic treasure out of the shadows and into the light. After all, there's no place like home."
The slippers, valued at $2 million, had been on loan to the Grand Rapids museum by owner and collector Michael Shaw, who received an insurance settlement after they were stolen.