Leonardo DiCaprio led a group of "angel donors" that included Steven Spielberg to buy a pair of the iconic ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz," for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts announced the news in a statement on February 22. Additional donations also came from Terry Semel, co-chair of LACMA and the former chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. and Yahoo!, as well as other donors.
"The ruby slippers occupy an extraordinary place in the hearts of movie audiences the world over," Bob Iger, president and CEO of the Walt Disney Co. and chair of the capital campaign for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, said in a statement. "This is a transformative acquisition for our collection." Disney is the parent company of OnTheRedCarpet.com.
"Leo's passionate leadership has helped us bring home this legendary piece of movie history," Academy CEO Dawn Hudson added. "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."
There are four pairs of ruby slippers from the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz" known to exist and the shoes acquired by the Academy are in the best condition. It is believed the slippers are the shoes Judy Garland wore in close-ups when Dorothy clicks her heels three times to return to Kansas.
After production of the film ended in 1939, the ruby slippers were stored on MGM's Culver City lot for the next 30 years. One pair of slippers was sold at the auction and was donated anonymously to the Smithsonian in 1979.
Warner kept the finest pair in his private collection for more than a decade before selling them at auction in 1981. They were sold again in 1988 to another private collector, and have been displayed publicly only a handful of times in the years since, most notably at the National Portrait Gallery and the Library of Congress.
The Academy and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced plans to establish the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures inside the historic May Company building, currently known as LACMA West, in October 2011. The building has been a Los Angeles landmark since its opening in 1939, the same year "The Wizard of Oz" premiered.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts is the organization behind the Oscars, which is set to air on February 26.Check out Oscar.com and make your picks on who you think will win at this year's Academy Awards. Also check out Entertainment Weekly writer Dave Karger's Oscar Poll Insight below, where he gives tips to win your Oscar pool.
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