In August 2005, some unknown thief or thieves broke in through the back door of the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids and swiped the slippers. Neither the Garland museum’s alarm system or video surveillance system were working at the time of the 2005 theft. It was believed that local kids had stolen the slippers, then got scared and threw them into a nearby abandoned mine pit. Other people speculated that a memorabilia collector named Michael Shaw who had loaned the slippers to the museum had paid someone to steal the shoes to collect insurance which was $1 million. The insurance company sued Shaw, the museum and its director to avoid making that payout but finally paid $800,000. The missing slippers are two different sizes and may be the mates of a mismatched pair at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
Scene of the movie on the museum
Officials announced at a news conference on Tuesday that the slippers have been recovered after a sting operation conducted in Minneapolis. Last summer, officials received a new tip that was “dilligently pursued” and led to the sting operation. The FBI has identified suspects and has executed multiple search warrants in Minnesota and Florida in connection with the investigation but are not yet done to find those responsible for the theft. The slippers were recovered. The FBI transported the footwear to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., where conservators were able to examine the shoes, including evidence of wear and details unique to their use in the 1939 film.