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Ruby slippers Wizard of Oz History of 4+ original pairs

Ruby Slippers Wizard of Oz - Original

There is not much history on the ruby slippers before the famous 1970 MGM auction. They were discovered by costumer Kent Warner, who was hired by David Weisz auction house to sort out the costumes to liquidate MGM’s Hollywood history. This auction pieces considered the most important piece of Hollywood memorabilia and the catalyst for the creation of Hollywood memorabilia collecting. Over 80% of the memorabilia market went through Kent Warner hands which represent around 450,000 costumes.

Richard Wonder representative of the #1 slippers
Ruby Slippers Wizard of Oz #1

Pair #1.Upon discovering multiple pairs of ruby slippers, Kent was instructed by Dave Weisz to eliminate all pairs except one to be sold at the auction. The main reason for this was the devaluation of the value based on the multiple pairs. It was one of the worst condition pairs out of 3 continuity pairs and an Arabian test pair, later purchased by Debbie Reynolds. So at the auction, there was only one pair sold for $15,000 (equivalent to $100,000 today). It was purchased by California millionaire represented by Richard Wonder. He donated his pair to the Smithsonian in 1979, feeling doomed, after discovering that his pair was not the only surviving pair. Recently in 2023, the slippers went through the restoration process which cost $300,000.

Roberta Bowman - owner of the second pair of slippers
Ruby Slippers #2

Roberta Bowman, from Memphis Tennessee, learning that the ruby slippers sold for $15,000 at MGM auction, surfaced and let the public know that she has a pair from MGM. She had them from 1940, in 6B size. She won the as part of the promotion to vote on the 10 best movies of 1939. She got a 2nd place and kept them in the storage. She tried to get authentification from MGM about slippers, but never got a response. Around age 65, she decided to sell them at the auction, where Roberta's pair was sold for $150,000 in 1988 to Antony Landini. He wants to remain anonymous since people think that he is crazy. Anthony agreed with Disney to display them during Great Movie Ride attractions until 2000. Anthony LanDini was retiring and wanted to sell his pair. He sold them for 600K to David Elkouby, who mentioned that he planned to display them at the museum, but 24 years later they still in the Bank vault not be accessible to the public.

Leonardo de Caprio and Steven Spielberg owner of the ruby slippers
Ruby Slippers #3

Kent Warner kept the best pair for himself. In 1981, after being diagnosed with HIV, Kent decided to sell them to pay medical bills. This ruby slippers pair was purchased for $12000. There is also a Dorothy dress sold at this auction. In 1988, after pair #2 sold for $150,000, the owner of the pair through the Christie auction contacted the underbidder and offered the pair for $150,000. The underbidder Phylips Samuels from St.Louse, Missouri agreed and became an owner of the pair. In 2011 Icon of Hollywood, placed them at the auction with a reserve price of $2 million, which they did not sell. Later on,  Leonardo Decaprio, Steven Spielberg, and a few others purchased slippers privately for $2.2 million and donated them to the Motion Picture Academy. It should be noted that the Academy Museum in Los Angeles displays a replica of the slippers.

Mike Shaw - original slippers owner
Ruby Slippers #4

Pair #4 Kent Warner promised Debbie Reynolds the pair of ruby slippers to be displayed in the future Hollywood History Museum. A person by the name of Mike Shaw is supposed to help Kent in cataloging costumes and also be a person that would help Debbie with the museum, Mike is the conduit between Debbie and Kent. Kent offered a pair to Debbie at $2500, which she could not afford at the time due to spending in an MGM auction, so Mike Shaw took the opportunity to purchase a dress and the slippers. Mike eventually displayed ruby slippers in the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids Minnesota, from where they were stolen in August of 2005. They have been recovered, but the condition of the shoes is unknown based on their storage condition for over 15 years. It might cost over $300,000 to restore them to needed conditions based on the amount spent by the Smithsonian. Currently, there is a promotion indicating that this pair will be auctioned at Heritage in December 2024.

Debbie Reynolds Arabian slippers
Arabian test ruby slippers #5

Arabian Test Pair. Kent Warner was not happy with the fact that the pair that he planned for Debbie was not getting to her and sold her an Arabian test pair for $300. Debbie was unable to get funds to open the museum and decided to auction some of her items including Arabian test slippers. They were sold in 2012 for $627,300.

Disney Great Movie Ride Wizard of Oz ruby slippers
Disney Great Movie Ride slippers #6

In 1988, Anthony Landini acquired Pair #2 of the iconic Ruby Slippers from Roberta Bowman. He struck a deal with Disney to display them at the "Great Movie Ride" attraction. However, when he decided to sell them in 2000, the original Ruby Slippers were no longer available to be displayed at the attraction. During their time on display, Disney used them for fundraising and repairs, and a replica pair was created to be displayed when the originals were not available. The replica pair continued to be displayed until the ride closed in 2017.
The Wizard of Oz Museums assumes that this is the best replica of the slippers due to Disney's talents in creating them and the availability of the original in hands. The replica ruby slippers were obtained by the famous Disney Memorabilia collector, Joel Magee.
In 2023, The Wizard of Oz Museum in Florida acquired them through a public auction.

Kent Warner - founder of the three ruby and Arabian slippers


David Weisz was a liquidator for an auction house who hired Kent Warner to sort out costumes. Kent was particularly obsessed with finding the costumes from The Wizard of Oz. Kent was a friend of Michael Shaw, who was working with Debbie Reynolds to preserve Hollywood history. Debbie bought staff directly from the studio, auction, and Kent Warner,  and planned to open a museum. Kent also wanted to ensure that the pieces went to the hands of people who cared.

Kent took two pairs to David Weiss and told him that he found them. David asked if there were more, and Ken said yes. David told him to get rid of them and gave the auction one pair to sell, but not the best pair.  Kent kept the best pair for himself. The Arabian pair only lasted a few weeks and was only shown in test photographs. 

The auction was very well attended and brought all the collectors of Hollywood. During the auction, the costumes were stapled to the wall and stuffed with tissue paper. Debbie Reynolds ran the whole operation, and Michael Shaw, who was a curator of her proposed museum, helped her catalog all the things she bought at the auction.

Tinkering with racks was one of the allure for collectors, and they often traded back and forth between themselves. The Ruby Slippers sold for $15k in the early days, but in 1979, they were donated to the Smithsonian.  The MGM auction created the market for costumes and movie collectibles.

Roberta Bowman had the Ruby Slippers from 1940. They were a size 6B and part of the promotion to vote on the ten best movies of 1939. She got second place and kept them in storage until the auction of the 1970s, where she wanted to confirm if they were authentic.

The owner of the MGM auction slippers was angry about the second pair of slippers and thought they had been defraud. Everyone at that point believes there is more than one pair.

Michael Shaw made a package deal with Ken to get a dress and shoes. Kent promised Debbie a pair of shoes, and Michael was supposed to be the conduit between Debbie and Ken. But it is not known if he was buying them for Debbie or for himself. Kent offered the shoes to Debbie, but she was out of money and could not afford to buy them at $2500. So Michael got the money and purchased the shoes. There is no paperwork to show that they were sold rightfully. Kent was very angry that Michael did not get the slippers to Debbie and sold her Arabian slippers for $300.

Michael Shaw decides to show them at the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota from where they were stolen. He had them on display four or five times, and the last time was in June 2005. In August 2005, the shoes were stolen from the museum.

In 1988, Bowman’s pair went to Christie’s and was sold for $150k to Anthony Landini, who wanted to remain anonymous and made a deal with Disney to display them there. 

In the late 1970s, Ken started to get sick. He contracted HIV and started to sell off his collection. He sold off Dorothy’s dress and decided to sell the Ruby Slippers in 1981 for $12k at Christie’s.  He passed away in April 1984.

A few weeks before the 1988 sale, the buyer of the 1981 sale called Christie’s and asked if the underbidder was willing to pay the same price as Roberta’s shoes were sold for. The underbidder agreed, and they went to Phylips Samuels in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Debbie never opened the museum because of money.

In 2000, Landini was retiring and wanted to sell his pair. It was sold for $600k to David Elkouby and the new owner mentioned it to be displayed in the Hollywood Museum.

 In 2011, the Icon of Hollywood Auctioned, listed slippers with the reserved  $2m, but they did not sell.  Samuels’ shoes were later purchased privately by Leonardo Spielberg and donated to the Motion Picture Academy. 

In 2012, the Witch’s shoes were sold at auction, and the dress sold for $910k, generating $27 million for Debbie Reynolds and she never opened the museum.

After the FBI discovered the stolen ruby slippers #4, they sent them to the Smithsonian for examination. They discovered that the left shoes from pair #1 belonged with the right shoe from pair #4. 

One thing known is that pair #4 will be auction off at Heritage Auction in December of 2024.



Visit the Wizard of Oz Museum today

“The museum displays over 2000 Wizard of Oz Memorabilia pieces with original props from the famous 1939 movie. Through the self-guided tour, visitors learn about the universe of Oz, which consists of 40 official Oz books, and the movie that we all love, partially based on the first book written 40 years before the movie production.”
The Wizard of Oz museum Space Coast
Fred Trust
Museum Founder