US authorities have charged a man in connection with the theft of a pair of ruby red slippers worn by actress Judy Garland as Dorothy in the 1939 classic movie “The Wizard of Oz” nearly 20 years after they were stolen from a museum in Minnesota.
On Tuesday, a federal grand jury indicted Terry Jon Martin on one count of theft of a major artwork for allegedly stealing “an object of cultural heritage from the care, custody, or control of a museum,” according to court documents filed in the US District Court of Minnesota. The slippers were valued at least $100,000, court documents stated.
CNN has reached out to Martin for comment. It is unclear if he currently has an attorney of record.
In August 2005, authorities said a thief broke into the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota before smashing a glass display case and stealing the slippers. Investigators said they had no evidence, aside from a single sequin that had fallen off one of the slippers.
A breakthrough in the case was made 13 years later, when officials recovered the slippers during an undercover operation in Minneapolis. No suspects were taken into custody at that time.
Prior to being stolen, the slippers were insured for $1 million but a news release from the United Stated Attorney’s Office, District of North Dakota estimated their current value at $3.5 million.
Regarded as among most recognizable items of memorabilia in American film history, the red slippers were, in the movie, gifted to Dorothy by Glinda the Good Witch. They were created by MGM’s chief designer Gilbert Adrian, who dyed a pair of pumps red and covered them in sequins.
It is not known how many pairs of ruby slippers Garland wore during filming, though the stolen shoes were among four remaining ones known to have survived.
One pair sold at auction for $666,000 in 2000, while another recently went on display at the newly opened Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in LA. Speaking to CNN last year, the museum’s collections curator, Nathalie Morris, said that its pair was “labeled number seven,” meaning that there were once at least seven pairs.
Conservators at the National Museum of American History meanwhile spent more than a year trying to work out how to stop the sequins on its pair — which is made up of mismatched shoes marked “#1 Judy Garland” and “#6 Judy Garland,” according to their labels — from losing their sparkle.
CNN’s Andy Rose and Kara Devlin contributed to this report.