A federal grand jury in Minnesota has indicted a 76-year-old man on a charge of theft of a major artwork in connection with the 2005 theft of an iconic pair of ruby slippers from 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz.”
The one page indictment accuses Terry Jon Martin of breaking into the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids overnight, smashing a Plexiglas case, and leaving with the size 5 1/2 slippers, one of four surviving pairs made for the film’s star.
The shoes were recovered in 2018. The indictment provides no other information about the theft, including where the shoes were for 13 years or how the FBI zeroed in on Martin as the thief.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune contacted Martin by phone after word of the indictment was released. He told the newspaper, “”I gotta go on trial. I don’t want to talk to you.”
A date for Martin’s first court appearance has not been set.
The shoes at the Judy Garland Museum — Garland was born Frances Gumm in Grand Rapids in 1922 — were on loan from Hollywood collector Michael Shaw.
The shoes were insured for $1 million at the time they were stolen, but the US Attorney’s Office in North Dakota — which is handling the prosecution after federal prosecutors in Minnesota were recused for an unknown reason — said the current market value is $3.5 million.
The other pairs of the shoes are at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences museum in Los Angeles, and with a private collector.
L. Frank Baum’s original Oz series of books made Dorothy’s slippers silver, but movie producers changed them to ruby to make them stand out in the color portions of the film. The shoes were created from a white silk pump made by the Innes Shoe Company. They were dyed red and covered in burgundy sequins — a darker color so they wouldn’t appear orange on film.
The once-stolen shoes are still in the custody of the FBI, Judy Garland Museum director Janie Heitz told the Star Tribune.
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[Featured image: 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 September 4, 2018, at the FBI office in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, after they were recovered. (AP Photo/Jeff Baenen, File)]