A pair of red shoes worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz that were stolen from a Minnesota museum 13 years ago have been recovered, FBI officials announced Tuesday.
The ruby red slippers, which were insured for $1 million, have been missing since they were stolen in an August 2005 smash-and-grab robbery at the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
They were one of at least four pairs of sparkly red shoes worn by Garland in the iconic movie in which she famously clicks her heels and says, "There's no place like home."
The shoes were recovered during an undercover operation in Minneapolis after a yearlong investigation following a tip the Grand Rapids Police Department received last summer. Grand Rapids Police approached the FBI after it became clear that further investigation would require crossing state lines, said police Chief Scott Johnson at a press conference on Tuesday.
The tipster contacted the company that insured the shoes, saying he had "information about the shoes and how they could be returned," according to a statement from the FBI. In the course of the investigation, "it became apparent that those involved were in reality attempting to extort the owners of the slippers," said Special Agent Christopher Dudley.
Although the shoes have been recovered, the investigation is "very active and ongoing," said Special Agent in Charge Jill Sanborn.
Detectives are still seeking information about the theft itself, those responsible, and the motive. They are seeking the assistance of the public for any additional information.
Charges will be drawn up "as appropriate, and if appropriate, at a later time," said North Dakota US Attorney Christopher Myers.
The shoes belong to Michael Shaw, who loaned them to the museum for a 10-week period in 2005 when they were stolen.
Shaw told the Duluth News Tribune at the time that the theft was his "worst nightmare."
In 2015, on the theft's 10th anniversary, an anonymous fan offered a $1million reward for the return of the slippers.
The search has taken investigators all over the country, from San Diego to Missouri, and to the bottom of a lake outside of Grand Rapids.
“The problem is that there are a great many reproductions out there and people believed that these were the stolen slippers,” said Grand Rapids Police Sgt. Robert Stein in a statement to local ABC affiliate KSTP. “As recently as two weeks ago, we received a telephone call from a psychic telling us that she was sure she knew where the slippers were."
Investigators worked with the Smithsonian museum in Washington, DC, which is home to another pair of ruby slippers, to confirm that this pair was genuine.
According to Smithsonian curator Dawn Wallace, analysis showed that the recovered pair were similar in "construction, materials, and condition to the museum's pair," the FBI's statement said.
Police Chief Johnson thanked the FBI, who he said "worked relentlessly" on the case, and called the shoes "an enduring symbol of the power of belief."
“There is a certain romance in these types of schemes," said Myers. "But, it’s a theft."