DULUTH, Minn. (TCD) — A 76-year-old man recently pleaded guilty to stealing a pair of the famous ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz.”
According to an Oct. 13 news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of North Dakota, Terry Martin pleaded guilty to one count of theft of major artwork, an object of cultural heritage from the care, custody, or control of a museum. He previously pleaded not guilty in June, WCCO-TV reports.
In 2005, Martin reportedly used a sledgehammer to break into the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, then opened the display case containing the slippers and proceeded to steal them.
According to WCCO, Martin claimed he didn’t hear an alarm, and he fled the scene in his car. Martin reportedly stashed the stolen slippers in a trailer next to his home.
WCCO reports that Martin brought them to a “jewelry fence,” a criminal who resells stolen items, who revealed the jewels were glass, not real rubies. He later handed the slippers over to someone else, and he claimed he no longer had anything to do with the shoes after that.
The FBI and Grand Rapids Police Department recovered the slippers in July 2018. They are one of the last four remaining pairs, the Attorney’s Office said.
Michael Shaw, a collector who loaned the shoes to the museum during the theft, reportedly said that the slippers remained in the same “pristine” condition as they were before the theft.
The Attorney’s Office said the slippers were worth $1 million in 2005, but they’re currently estimated to be worth $3.5 million.
Martin’s sentencing has not yet been scheduled.
In a statement obtained by WCCO, a curator for the Judy Garland Museum said, “Just to do it because he thought they were real rubies and to turn them over to a jewelry fence. I mean, the value is not rubies. The value is an American treasure, a national treasure. To steal them without knowing that seems ludicrous.”
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