Maddalena knew Warner in the 1970s, and over the years he has sold pairs of original ruby slippers to wealthy collectors. The owners and their daughter pursued the stolen art across the country, even as perpetrators eluded the police and the FBI. Something with poi-son in it I think. “Usually BOLOs are for stolen cars or suspects, never for a pair of ruby shoes.”. My granddaughter was so excited to receive her ruby slippers and wears them every day. Could you? The slippers were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The box itself was a marvel, one that had been constructed by the FBI to her specifications to transport the shoes without touching any sequins. The man was calling from “a Southern state,” according to Mattson (the FBI would later say it executed search warrants in Florida as a part of the 2018 sting), and he claimed to be an innocent participant — a middle man — who had been brought in to help get the slippers back to the rightful owners. Luft acknowledges the rumors about her grandfather in her memoir but says the story that they had left because of his indiscretions is pure bunk and was disproved. “You just felt it,” he says. A top Minneapolis criminal-defense attorney named Joe Friedberg told Rubenstein he was approached about just such a deal regarding the Rockwell paintings a few years after the heist; according to Rubenstein, a man asked Friedberg to help facilitate the paintings’ return. They are the most iconic shoes in all of Hollywood. Barden says it’s safe to assume that MGM made at least seven pairs for Garland — even though seven pairs haven’t been found — because “the Academy Museum has the Number 7 pair,” and “we assume MGM wouldn’t skip numbers as they numbered the shoes.”. Some were watching the meeting site, and others formed a secondary perimeter outside the meeting zone. “I have looked into a lot of crazy things that have ended up producing criminal cases.” When someone steals “a piece of American history,” as Morgan calls the ruby slippers, “even rumors were thoroughly chased down.”. The FBI had recovered them in a sting operation in Minneapolis. In the summer of 2017, he got a call from patrol officers saying they had a woman who had given a false name during a traffic stop. The yard was filled with outbuildings — sheds and handmade structures — as well as tents. Around 2010 he started researching the case for a story. The man on the line said he was with the FBI and told her that they had just recovered what they believed to be the stolen ruby slippers. He’d found the slippers. 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In August 2017, Mattson asked the Middle Man for proof-of-life photos of the slippers. The edges of the bows are white and there are a lot of bare spots around the toes. John Kelsch, senior director of the Judy Garland Museum, with a replica of Garland’s ruby slippers at the museum. In 1978, a small family-run gallery in a suburb outside Minneapolis pulled off a big coup when it hosted the then-largest private exhibition of Norman Rockwell paintings. “They hired the thieves to get the Renoir,” Rubenstein says. Most said that the shoes had been spotted — in a restaurant down south, or in a dry cleaner’s in Chicago, or hidden in the back of a storage unit. Photographers swelled in for their shots, and an FBI press agent could be heard saying, “Folks, this is valuable evidence. He emerged holding a green shoe box wrapped in ribbon. When Rubenstein relayed what he had learned to the retired prosecutor, the man made good on his promise. Her house crushed the wicked witch of west's sister and she waswearing the slippers so the good witch of the north (glinda) gavethe slippers to dorthy. “All she had to say was, ‘They’re gone,’ and I knew exactly what she meant,” Kelsch recalls. “I passed,” he told Rubenstein. The Middle Man said he’d called the Judy Garland Museum and they had blown him off. One of the agents in the car asked Mattson if he was excited. “Whoever had them all these years has taken care of them,” she says. Why else would he refuse to let the staff put the shoes in a safe at night? According to Mattson, Markel had heard from the same man, and eventually, through a lawyer representing the company, agreed to pay the remainder of the original policy — $200,000 — if the police could arrange for the safe return of the shoes. The curated tour of Garland’s life ends with a panel by the back door about the challenges she faced: the drug addiction and divorces, the suicide attempts, her early death at 47 from what was ruled an accidental overdose of barbiturates. When Mattson told Morgan, “I’m going down for the slippers,” Morgan replied, “I sure hope it’s the real thing this time.”. Trouble was, “the water in the pit had risen over the years,” says Mattson, who had begun to assist Morgan in the investigation. Dorothy agrees and Ozma taps the slippers three times while Dorothy says goodbye to her friends. Over the months I spent reporting this story, tips started coming my way, solicited and otherwise. Return to Oz 1985. In 2002, he helped recover three of the missing Rockwells from an art collector in Brazil. The discovery created a problem. When the ruby slippers were stolen in August 2005 from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn., it made international news. One day he received a call from a retired prosecutor in Minnesota who made him a deal: If Rubenstein could find out anything about the ruby slippers theft, he would return the favor by putting him in touch with someone who knew about the Rockwell crime. In this world of smart devices, we are used to clicking to make things happen. Off to the side of the FBI news conference, away from the crush of curious reporters, stood three of the police officers from Grand Rapids who had worked the ruby slippers case: investigator Brian Mattson, patrol Sgt. She shrugged. As everyone in the Land of Oz gets ready for bedtime, the Wicked Witch of the West demands that Wilhelmina gets her the Ruby Slippers. Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers Were Stolen 13 Years Ago. It also didn’t record, so there was no opportunity to scrutinize visitors from the weeks leading up to the theft. Deep gouges in the earth have filled with rain and groundwater over the years, and at 300 feet deep in places, the pit lakes are said to house proof of untold crimes. Andy Morgan, who spent seven years chasing leads all over town and the country. That man wanted Friedberg to negotiate with the insurance company on his behalf for the reward money. “Kent started the idea of collecting, and at that time it was fun. (Many of the costumes are also darker than they appear on screen, owing to the Technicolor process.) The Ruby Slippers are part of the psychological development and maturation of Dorothy. The rumor that the ruby slippers had been thrown into the water began almost as soon as they were stolen. A pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the “The Wizard of Oz” were stolen from a … “I felt I had been kicked in the stomach,” Shaw told me. That was always an outside party. Bennett brought the man to the station and asked the state police — the only ones with polygraph technology — to give him a lie-detector test. The bureau had reestablished contact with the people who’d reached out to the Grand Rapids police, without alerting them that they were talking to the FBI. In Grand Rapids, they had been happy, according to Luft, but in California they were not. The statute of limitations on the original theft had expired, but authorities could get someone for possession of stolen property. Yet in a small town, as I was learning, rumors have their own currency. He quickly copped to the fact that he’d lied to his friends. Only when she surrenders the ruby slippers to the Wicked Witch to save Toto does she sacrifice herself to the witch’s mercy. Back then, “it was hard to believe that somebody from the inside didn’t have something to do with it,” Schaar recalls. Some kids whispered that the slippers were already gone, burned in a bonfire at a legendary party in the months after the burglary. A lot of times, the roads don’t lead to success. One of the beneficiaries of Warner’s side hustle was a Los Angeles-based acting coach and amateur collector named Michael Shaw. The Ruby Slippers, worn by Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale in "The … Miner, anonymously at the time, also put up a $1 million reward for the safe return of the slippers. In July 2018, she had been in her office in the lower level of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History when a call came in. Wallace says the FBI had reached out to the Smithsonian back then to ask if its experts could share some of what they had learned about the sequins from their own research. Art dealers and collectors that Mattson had talked to over the years said they wouldn’t be surprised if the slippers, which had a global appeal, were in Asia or Europe in someone’s private collection. “There’s rumors that all kinds of things are down there,” Andy Morgan says. Yes, Hane said, and “it’s bittersweet. It doesn’t mean it’s a failure. She claimed she had her own pair of original ruby slippers. Even more so when you consider that there were no computers and everything you’re seeing had to be made out of whole cloth.” Including the ruby slippers. The ruby slippers investigation has been an anomaly for Mattson. We mistakenly believed that when we armed the building at night that the contacts would all be armed again, but this was not the case. Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers From ‘The Wizard of Oz’ Finally Return—and It’s No Joke for the FBI NO PLACE LIKE HOME The FBI announced the return of a … The interior door to the gallery where the slippers were being displayed was only a few feet away. But this cold case team didn’t give up on them. The sequins used in the ruby slippers “are a transition between the two,” she says. Bennett investigated the early rumors and says he arranged for a dive of the Prairie River after a seemingly viable tip, but nothing came of it. “Anything beyond recovery was just icing on the cake.”. Perhaps, the letter said, Shaw had never sent the real slippers to the museum at all. The shoes, Sanborn explained to the reporters, had been recovered during a sting operation in Minneapolis earlier that summer involving the bureau’s art crime team. “When we didn’t find out the person responsible, well, it’s just hard to believe this is all still a mystery,” Crowe says. In that time, thousands of tips from across the country and Europe had flooded the Grand Rapids Police Department — from psychics claiming the shoes were buried in a house mere blocks from their station, to countless people believing they’d stumbled onto them at a flea market or in the home of a “Wizard of Oz” fan. The Return of Dorothy’s Iconic Ruby Slippers, Now Newly Preserved for the Ages The unprecedented conservation of the Wizard of Oz shoes involved more than 200 hours, and a call from the FBI. Her father, Frank Gumm, was a vaudeville performer who met his future wife, Ethel, when she accompanied him on the piano one night. The news conference had been announced only hours before, so in Grand Rapids there had been no time to plan proper viewing parties. Wallace escorted the agents to the conservation lab, and there, in a temperature- and humidity-controlled room, Barden was waiting to assist. Kelsch was just out of the shower at home when his phone rang. Around the time of the Chicago search, the Grand Rapids police received a letter asserting that Shaw had commissioned a high-end pair to look like his real pair. Crowe had just directed a local production of “The Wizard of Oz,” and there was a young girl with a set of pipes like Garland. Over the years, Stein says, even routine traffic stops became opportunities, with officers half-jokingly asking: “Is there anything in this car you don’t want us to find? Crowe also got a call from Kelsch the day of the theft, asking for help with a media event the next day. The Judy Garland Museum’s main gallery houses a permanent collection of artifacts from that legendary career: Garland’s test dress from “The Wizard of Oz”; an original Andy Warhol serigraph of her; the carriage that transported the cast in the Emerald City scene. Something with poi-son in it I think. 345. On camera, Maddalena, one of the few people who had seen multiple pairs of slippers up close, said the shoes in the picture looked legitimate. She punched in the security code and turned the system on and off a few times until the screen reset itself. “We were left with a lot of questions,” Hane says. In the 1930s, “the entire nation’s attention was on Hollywood because this had become such an American industry,” says Ryan Lintelman, entertainment curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Other police departments across Minnesota also got anonymous tips over the years, and all of them were funneled to Morgan. Like Dorothy, the investigators — and even the average citizens — of Grand Rapids had been taken down an unlikely, meandering path. The bows were made of stiff cotton and adorned with three types of red faux gems: thin, tubular bugle beads; rectangular beads; and rhinestones. “We had a tornado drill this morning,” she said. “A press conference without facts,” Hane thought. Or, perhaps, it was oxygen and the slippers needed to be in an airtight case. Now my beauties. “I think he was, like most people, just curious about what had happened.”. She put them on at 11:30 a.m. when they arrived and pretty much has not taken them off since. At the museum, Bennett and other officers took statements and crime scene photos. The guy’s face fell. See, Zelena is after Dorothy, who has the silver slippers she needs to get back to her baby. I told him I would look into it.”. Zelena wanted to get her magic slippers so that she could get back to her baby." Will Biden ease the sky-high tension between the U.S. and China? Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers are on display at The Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Mattson set about organizing the papers into a white three-ring binder with a color-coded Post-it system. Many of Mattson’s sources are addicted to narcotics, and he gets them to consider working with the police by asking: “Could you imagine how different your life would be if someone had never introduced you to drugs?”. More than the return of the shoes, people in Grand Rapids wanted answers for a crime that had haunted their town for 13 years. Ozma agrees on the condition that she will look in on Dorothy from time to time and if she ever wishes to come back to Oz it will be granted. One day I sat in Mattson’s office as he talked about the ruby slippers case, but I was distracted by the felony’s worth of heroin sitting on his desk. (Photo by dbkng via Wikimedia / CC by 2.0). But for years after the auction, “the greatest pinch in Hollywood remained Hollywood’s best kept secret,” Thomas wrote, referring to the shoes taken by Warner. 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