A man pleaded guilty for stealing Judy Garland’s Wizard of Oz ruby slippers. He maintained the details leading up to the crime as a mystery and thought the rubies on them were real.
A man robbed the Judy Garland’s The Wizard of Oz ruby slippers from the Judy Garland Museum in 2005.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recovered the slippers and located them in Minneapolis in 2018. The FBI indicted a man named Terry Jon Martin. Federal prosecutors in North Dakota said Martin was charged for one count of theft of a major artwork and did not elaborate further.
Martin pleaded guilty to the crime on Friday, October 13, in a deal that could “keep him out of prison due to his failing health.” He clarified some of the details but managed to keep a few skeletons in his closet.
Judy Garland played Dorothy in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, where she used the ruby slippers as part of her character’s ensemble.
Martin thought the slippers’ rubies are real
Authorities did not arrest anyone for the crime until Martin’s indictment this year. Martin narrated his side of the story during his change-of-plea hearing in a federal court in Duluth.
Martin smashed the museum door with a hammer. He destroyed the display case where the slippers are displayed. He used the same hammer to destroy the slippers.
The Associated Press (AP) reported that Martin thought the slippers had real rubies, hoping he could sell the gems. He got rid of the slippers once he was told the rubies are made from glass.
Martin debunks that the robbery wasn’t for insurance money
Martin did not elaborate on how or to whom he disposed of Judy Garland’s ruby slippers. This leaves the slippers’ whereabouts for the remaining years as a mystery. He did debunk speculations that he stole them for insurance money.
Martin’s legal counsel Dane DeKrey said that Martin did not have an idea how and where the slippers were recovered.
The plea agreement states DeKrey and federal prosecutor Matt Greenley recommended Martin’s freedom from behind bars due to his health. Martin showed up in court in a wheelchair with an oxygen aid as his advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease made breathing hard for him.
AP reported that chief federal judge for Minnesota Patrick Schiltz ordered a presentence investigation. Sentencing for Martin would be scheduled almost three months from now.
Dorothy’s iconic ruby slippers
Garland’s character Dorothy owned the iconic sequined slippers, dubbed as the “traveling pair.”
The Wizard of Oz used four pairs of the ruby slippers. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has one pair and one at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. A private collector possesses one pair of the iconic slippers.
Garland wore the shoes when she was 16, as she played the lead role of the film. The original book by L. Frank Baum narrates that the magic slippers are silver. The movie used the ruby red shoes for Garland as it shows up vibrantly against the iconic yellow brick road.
The stolen slippers were insured for $1 million, but federal prosecutors valued them at about $3.5 million.
Banner photo via Smithsonian’s official website.