The theft of the ruby red slippers, from the classic movie The Wizard of Oz, stands as one of the most infamous thefts of iconic Hollywood memorabilia. The ruby slippers were worn by Judy Garland when she played Dorothy Gale in MGM’s 1929 film.

An unknown number of pairs were made during the making of the movie, but at least five pairs are known to have survived. They are considered one of the most valuable items of movie memorabilia in history.

The slippers that were stolen were swiped from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, in August 2005. An investigation found that various security measures, at the museum, had been bypassed or were not working.

On Discovery series Expedition Unknown, Josh Gates discovers that the robust looking outside security door had its alarm disabled. This allowed the thieves to break the glass and enter the building. The door to the main museum area was left unlocked, again allowing easy access for the robbers. They then simply had to walk to the display and smash the glass to get their hands on the slippers. A CCTV camera directly opposite the slipper display should have caught the thieves on film, but it was switched off! Inside Job?


The Smithsonian Institution have one of the pairs from the movie and you can see them at The National Museum of American History. The pair they have are felt soled and fairly worn, indicating that they were used for a lot of the dance routines. In honor of the Smithsonian’s Kickstarter campaign last year, to raise money for the preservation of the slippers in their   possession, I posted a blog about the history of them.

What the new Josh Gates show revealed was the fact that there are actually at least 5 pairs of the ruby red slippers. Besides the stolen pair and the Smithsonian pair, another pair is with the “Academy of Motion Pictures Museum” that Leonardo DiCaprio donated to them after he won the auction bid. One pair is locked away in a private collection; my guess is Oprah, since she has a connection to them also and which I featured in my previous blogs about the most magical slippers of all time.


In the new Discovery program, Josh and his crew retrace the events and what has happened since. The “statutes of limitation” have expired and new details are surfacing. During the investigation a new witness came forward with details of who may have committed the crime. This sent the production crew into a new direction to scour a nearby lake and a submerged “paint can.” With the latest in Radar/LiDAR technology, they did find the witnesses clue, “a paint can,” but it didn’t hold anything but rocks. Back to the drawing board.

Josh is an archeologist and he hunts for treasures and new discoveries, like a real life Indiana Jones. I previously featured his series on the Egyptian Queens, the re-creation of the head of Queen Nefertiti and the possibilities of Queen Cleopatra’s final resting place. In his ruby red slippers episode, he states “they will be back” to continue the search. In the meantime, I hope you get a chance to catch his programs.

Theft of the Ruby Red Slippers
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