US prosecutors have accused a man of stealing the famous red slippers worn by Judy Garland’s character Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz in 1939.
The prized shoes were recovered in an FBI operation in 2018 – after being taken from a museum in August 2005 – but no arrests were made at the time.
On Tuesday, Minnesota man Terry Martin, 76, was charged by federal prosecutors with stealing a large piece of art.
The repaired soles are one of four pairs in existence.
The shoes were taken from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, by a burglar who broke a window in the building’s back door to gain entry. No fingerprints were left and no alarms went off, according to CBS News USA partner.
It was found during an undercover operation launched by the FBI’s Art Crime Team. The case is being handled by federal prosecutors in North Dakota and the Minneapolis division of the FBI.
The Red Shoes are the focus of The Wizard of Oz. When Dorothy clicks the heel of a shoe and says “There’s no place like home,” she is transported back to Kansas.
Charge documents released on Tuesday did not include any information about what led to Mr. Martin’s arrest. On Wednesday, Martin told a Minneapolis All-Star Tribune reporter, “I have to go to trial. I don’t want to talk to you.”
The newspaper reported that Mr. Martin lives 20 kilometers from the museum, located in Judy Garland’s childhood home.
Janie Hitz, the museum’s executive director, said she did not believe the suspect was a museum employee at all.
The US Attorney for the District of North Dakota said the Hollywood memorabilia is worth $3.5m (£2.8m), adding that it was insured for $1m when it was ‘stolen almost 18 years ago’.
Another pair of red sequin slippers can be found at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Another pair was acquired in 2012 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The stolen slippers are still in FBI custody.
“Until the cases are heard, nothing can be done with them,” the museum wrote on Facebook.