No place like home: Judy Garland's Wizard of Oz ruby slippers found

A pair of the glittering shoes that helped Dorothy Gale follow the Yellow Brick Road have been recovered after 13 years.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
2 min read

Those magical ruby slippers always knew their way home.

The famous glittery red footwear actress Judy Garland wore in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz found their way back over the rainbow this summer. The FBI revealed the once-stolen shoes at a press conference in Minneapolis on Tuesday afternoon.

The sparkly shoes, one of four pairs worn by Garland in the iconic film, were stolen in 2005 from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Garland's hometown. According to the New York Times, authorities found no fingerprints and had no security-camera footage. The thief broke in through a back entrance and smashed a display case to steal the shoes.

"From the outset, our top priority was the safe recovery of the slippers," special agent Christopher Dudley said on the FBI website. Although multiple suspects have been identified, "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," Dudley said. "This is very much an active investigation."

The FBI didn't name any suspects, and the agency didn't say where the shoes were found. Agents are asking anyone with information about the theft to call 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) or submit information online at tips.fbi.gov

A video released by the agency said a tip in 2017 and a "nearly yearlong" investigation by the FBI's Minneapolis division led to the recovery of the shoes.

The recovered shoes actually aren't even a pair. There's one left and one right shoe, but they are slightly different sizes, and their respective mates are in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. Museum conservators were asked to analyze and compare the recovered shoes with the ones they had safely in their collection.

"It's so exciting to know that (this recovered pair) have been brought back into the fold," Smithsonian curator Ryan Lintelman said in the FBI video, "and that they're going to be preserved for future generations."