"Wizard of Oz" ruby slippers find home at film academy

LOS ANGELES Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:13pm EST

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Judy Garland's ruby red slippers from "The Wizard of Oz" have found their way home.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said on Wednesday it had acquired one of the four known surviving pairs of the iconic shoes made for the 1939 movie, with the help of Leonardo DiCaprio and Steven Spielberg.

The shoes, regarded as one of the world's best-known film props, are believed to have been worn by Garland's character Dorothy when she clicked her heels three times to return to Kansas from the fantasy land of Oz near the end of the movie.

The slippers were previously due to be sold by Los Angeles auction house Profiles in History in December, with an estimated selling price of $2-$3 million. But auction house officials said they did not sell at that time.

The academy, which organizes the annual Oscar awards, said that DiCaprio and Spielberg had headed a group of "angel donors" to purchase the shoes for a museum planned by the academy.

Academy officials declined to say how much was paid. A pair of red test slippers for "The Wizard of Oz" from the Hollywood collection of actress Debbie Reynolds sold for $612,000 in May 2011.

"Leo's passionate leadership has helped us bring home this legendary piece of movie history," added academy chief executive officer Dawn Hudson. "It's a wonderful gift to the Academy museum project, and a perfect representation of the work we do year-round to preserve and share our film heritage."

DiCaprio, star of "Titanic" and "Inception", donated money from his own foundation. Other donors included Spielberg and former Warner Bros. and Yahoo! Chairman Terry Semel.

The shoes, marked #7 Judy Garland, are said to be the most pristine of the four pairs of slippers known to exist. One pair is in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., one is in private hands and another was stolen from the Judy Garland museum in Minnesota.

The academy and the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts announced plans in October to establish a museum to display movie-related treasures.

(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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