'Wizard of Oz' ruby slippers could return to Grand Rapids museum with state funding

The stolen slippers were one of at least four pairs used for "The Wizard of Oz". (FBI)

Minnesota state officials say they have approved a $100,000 grant to bring the iconic ruby slippers seen in the classic Wizard of Oz movie to the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids.

The funds are reportedly coming from the Legacy Finance Bill that Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz passed earlier this year. State officials add that if the museum is unable to purchase the slippers, the museum officials will work to reallocate the $100,000 grant. 

Judy Garland, who played Dorothy Gale in the iconic movie, was born in Grand Rapids back in 1922.  

Executive Director Janie Heitz said in a news release that "the purchase would benefit both the state and regional communities economically, pulling in substantial tourism dollars."

The idea was also proposed by lawmakers back in March with a plan to fund an effort through the Minnesota Historical Society. 

The slippers were returned after they were missing for 20 years after they were stolen in 2005. The FBI then recovered them in a sting operation back in 2018. 

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The slippers were taken after being on display at the museum for less than three months while on loan from owner and memorabilia collector Michael Shaw. 

The man convicted of stealing the slippers, Terry Martin, said he hoped to sell them because he thought the slippers had real rubies on them. He then got rid of them after it turned out they were bedazzled with sequins and beads. 

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Museum officials say the annual Judy Garland Festival will feature a new exhibit and a guided tour that will focus on the slipper theft. 

This year's festival is set to be held from June 20-23 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.