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The ruby slippers were worn by Judy Garland in the The Wizard of Oz. PA
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Residents of Judy Garland's hometown seek to buy ruby slippers worn in The Wizard of Oz

People in Grand Rapids, Minnesota are fundraising at the annual Judy Garland festival, which kicked off today.

RESIDENTS OF THE hometown of Judy Garland are raising money in a bid to purchase a pair of ruby slippers which the late actress wore in the classic 1939 film The Wizard Of Oz.

People in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, where the film star was born in 1922, are fundraising at the annual Judy Garland festival, which kicked off today.

The north Minnesota town is seeking donations to bring the slippers to the town after an auction company takes them on an international tour before offering them up to buyers in December.

“They could sell for $1 million, they could sell for $10 million. They’re priceless,” Joe Maddalena, Heritage Auctions executive vice president, told Minnesota Public Radio.

“Once they’re gone, all the money in the world can’t buy them back.”

The funds will supplement the $100,000 (€93,000) set aside this year by Minnesota lawmakers to purchase the slippers.

Dallas-based Heritage Auctions received the slippers from Michael Shaw, the memorabilia collector who originally owned the shoes. Shaw had loaned them in 2005 to the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

That summer, someone smashed through a display case and stole the slippers.

Their whereabouts remained a mystery until the FBI recovered them in 2018.

original-film-title-the-wizard-of-oz-english-title-the-wizard-of-oz-year-1939-director-victor-fleming-stars-jack-haley-judy-garland-ray-bolger-credit-m-g-m-album Judy Garland wearing the ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz (1939). Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The man who stole the slippers, 76-year-old Terry Jon Martin, pleaded guilty in October to theft of a major artwork, admitting to using a hammer to smash the glass of the museum’s door and display case in what his lawyer said was an attempt to pull off “one last score” after turning away from a life of crime.

He was sentenced in January to time served because of his poor health.

In March, a second man, 76-year-old Jerry Hal Saliterman, was charged in connection with the theft.

The ruby slippers were at the heart of 1939 musical The Wizard Of Oz. Garland, who died in 1969, wore several pairs during filming. Only four remain.

Maddalena says he sold two other pairs of ruby the slippers. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio and a group of the actor’s friends purchased one set for the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences.

Advance notice could help venues like the Judy Garland Museum secure the slippers that will be auctioned in December, he said. The museum which includes the house where Garland lived says it has the world’s largest collection of Garland and Wizard Of Oz memorabilia.

“We wanted to enable places that might not normally be able to raise the funds so quickly to have plenty of time to think about it and work out ways to do that,” Maddalena said.

“That’d be an amazing story. I mean, if they ended up back there, that’d be a fantastic story.”

With reporting by Press Association

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