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Bill to buy Judy Garland's ruby slippers from "Wizard of Oz" heads to Gov. Walz's desk

State of Minnesota hopes to buy once-stolen ruby slippers from "Wizard of Oz"
State of Minnesota hopes to buy once-stolen ruby slippers from "Wizard of Oz" 01:46

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. — There's no place like home, and the ruby red slippers worn by Judy Garland in "The Wizard of Oz" could soon have a new one  in Minnesota.

A bill that would set aside $100,000 to buy the famous shoes is set to head to the governor's desk on Tuesday.

The shoes are being put up for auction nearly 20 years after they were stolen. They were finally returned to their owner earlier this year. 

Stolen Ruby Slippers
FILE - A pair of ruby slippers once worn by actress Judy Garland in the "The Wizard of Oz" sit on display at a news conference on Sept. 4, 2018, at the FBI office in Brooklyn Center, Minn. Jeff Baenen / AP

The Minnesota Historical Society is hoping to purchase the shoes and put them on display publicly at the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Garland's hometown.

The $100,000 would go to the historical society to facilitate negotiations for the purchase.

The shoes are currently owned by Michael Shaw, a Los Angeles-based acting coach who bought the slippers from an MGM costumer in 1969.

The shoes were on loan to the Judy Garland Museum when they were stolen in 2005 and returned to Shaw in March.

Shaw gave the shoes to Dallas' Heritage Auctions, which will take the famous footwear on an international tour before being sold to the highest bidder.

The shoes are estimated to be valued at $3.5 million, so while the $100,000 wouldn't necessarily get the state down the entire yellow brick road, it's expected to be combined with other non-state resources to buy the shoes. 

Two suspects charged, one convicted in ruby slippers theft

In June 2023, 76-year-old Terry Jon Martin pleaded not guilty to one count of theft of a major artwork, but then changed his plea to guilty in October. Court documents characterized Martin as a "reformed mobster" who stole the shoes as "one last score."

The Grand Rapids resident was sentenced earlier this year to time served due to poor health, plus a year of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay the museum $23,000 in restitution. Martin is currently in hospice care.

In March, it was revealed a second man — 76-year-old Jerry Saliterman, of Crystal — was also charged with artwork theft in connection to the slippers' disappearance, as well as one count of witness tampering, according to unsealed court documents. It's unclear how, or if, Saliterman is connected to Martin.

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