"The Witches Shoes"
They are the most famous shoes in the world, a piece of Hollywood culture so iconic that all you have to say is “Click your heels three times” and everyone will know what you’re talking about.
The ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz.” Only four sets remain: those in the Smithsonian, the pair stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn., a mismatched pair owned by collector Michael Shaw and the “beauty pair” used for close-ups such as Dorothy’s exit scene with Glinda the Good Witch. The latter sells this week on the season premiere of “Hollywood Treasures.”
Memorabilia magnate Joe Maddalena fetches a princely sum for the sequined shoes — we’re talking $2 million — but first he has to wrest them out of the hands of former owner Philip Samuels. Samuels bought the slippers at Christie’s in 1988 for $180,000, and then hid them away in a place called Hollywood Vaults.
Sounds like the name of a cemetery or a post-Botox recovery room for A-list actors, but it’s really a climate-controlled, high-end storage facility in the mid-Wilshire neighborhood with security cameras and guards with muscle T-shirts and Popeye arms. Maddalena is escorted to the vault along with ruby-slipper expert Rhys Thomas. One of the vaults is unlocked and a black briefcase is removed. Maddalena says he felt like he was in an episode of “Mission: Impossible,” but instead of being handed the test tube of nitroglycerin, he was given a pair of white gloves and allowed to touch the precious slippers. For the Hollywood collector, this is a religious moment.
“They are the most famous movie artifacts in the world,” Maddalena says.
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