This week on the season premiere of “Hollywood Treasures” on SyFy Judy Garland’s Ruby Slippers were sold for $2 million. Philip Samuels sold the ruby slippers at an auction.
Only four sets of Judy Garland’s ruby slippers remain. One in the Smithsonian, the pair stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, a mismatched pair owned by collector Michael Shaw and these shown on “Hollywood Treasures” known as the “beauty pair” used for close-ups, such as Dorothy’s exit scene with Glinda.
Philip Samuels bought the Wizard of Oz ruby slippers in 1988 for $180,000 and has stored them at a place called Hollywood Vaults. Hollywood Vaults is a climate controlled storage facility in the Wilshire neighborhood. They have security cameras and guards to protect the storage vaults.
Joe Maddalena was escorted to the vault along with ruby slipper expert Rhys Thomas. The vault was unlocked and a black briefcase was removed. Maddalena says he felt like he was in an episode of “Mission: Impossible,” and was given a pair of white gloves to touch the precious slippers. Referring to the ruby slippers Maddalena says, “They are the most famous movie artifacts in the world.”
Rhys Thomas, author of “The Ruby Slippers of Oz” added, “It’s the holy grail.”
You’ll notice the ruby slippers actually weren’t red. With technology back in 1939, red wasn’t able to appear red on camera. Maddalena says, “To get these shoes to appear red onscreen was a chore. The Technicolor process was very primitive. Red comes out this ridiculous color. The muted pink with burgundy sequins combo on the slippers picked up the light and popped red.”
The expert, Rhys Thomas examined the ruby slippers only to find the proof on the soles which were red leather, indicating that these were used for Judy Garland’s scene at the end where she clicks her heels together three times. She wore different slippers, with orange felt on the bottom, when she was dancing on the yellow brick road and running through the poppy field.
The ruby slippers also had the tag JUDY GARLAND #7 written in pencil on the inside, which meant these were custom-made for Judy Garland.
Hollywood Treasures, Joe Maddalena says, “They arguably are the most important pair, because the pair in the Smithsonian and a pair that were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum were mismatched. I’ve done this 26 years now, and a couple of years ago when my son asked me if I have any regrets, I told him no, but the ruby slippers were the one thing that had eluded me my entire life. And then last year I sold two pairs of them. I’ll never have another year like that!”
“It’s kind of surreal now looking back that two pairs have gone through my hands. It’s surreal because it’s hard to believe that these things, A, came up for sale, and, B, that you can own them. I personally think it’s the most iconic prop in the world.”
How does Joe Maddalena see what people are willing to pay for such memorabilia? He says, “I just think it’s all timing. I mean, the other day somebody paid $100 million for Munch’s The Scream. I just think day to day, it’s what’s happening in the world. Buyers are in one mode. They’re in another mode. I just think a lot of it’s timing. When you buy $100 million painting, it’s like you can’t take it tomorrow and trade it for some building in Manhattan. You’re going to have to go through a whole process to sell it. I just think a lot of it’s timing and a lot of people understanding the slippers. There are multiple pairs [which] might have confused people. A lot of things go into it.”
Judy Garland Ruby Slippers
Ruby Slippers Sold at Auction