Hollywood TreasureEpisodes

Riddler Rudy and the Ruby Slippers
Season 2 - Episode 201
Riddler Rudy and the Ruby Slippers
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The central quest of Joe's career has been to locate a pair of the ruby slippers from his favorite movie, The Wizard of Oz. Today, after years of phone calls with a man named Philip Samuels, Joe will get his chance. He picks up Rhys Thomas, ruby slipper expert and author of the book, The Ruby Slippers of Oz, and heads out. They meet Philip at his vault, with his security guard, and the stakes get ratcheted up tenfold.

In the dimly lit vault, Joe and Rhys examine the slippers and identify several tell-tale signs that they're the real deal, most notably, that there's no orange felt on the bottom – just smooth leather. Philip is open to selling the slippers, but his minimum price of $2 million is much higher than Joe wants to go. Philip won't budge, and Joe, desperate to let the slippers see the light of day, agrees to dream big and see if he can auction them for this massive amount.

This is a big moment, but it's not the only thing going on. Joe also has to go visit his longtime associates, Chad and Doug Dreier, whose estate houses miraculous items such as Superman's costume from the first two movies and an 11-foot model of The Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. When the Dreiers casually ask Joe how much a costume from Superman would go for, he thinks they're joking, but they assure him they're dead serious. They're talking to various consignment houses, and they tell Joe they need him to give them an estimate for their collection, which spans rooms and rooms, by the end of the day, or they'll work with someone else.

Joe is between a rock and a hard place. There's just too much stuff, and it's too good! It'll be several auctions, all strategically timed, so there's no way of estimating the full value of their estate. What he can tell them, definitively, is that he'll strategize and partner with them to make sure everything gets its full value. That wins them over, and a partnership is formed.

Back at the Profiles in History loft, Joe's friend Tim drops by to sell The Riddler's hat and cane from Batman Forever. Tim is asking for $12,000 for both to help pay for his daughter's wedding, but Joe can't take on that kind of risk. He offers him $8,300, and throws in Two Face's coin as a bonus. Both parties are pleased.

Finally, Joe calls Sean Astin to show him a remarkable piece from the Dreier's collection: The original map of middle-Earth, signed by the artist, Pauline Baynes, as well as J.R.R. Tolkein. Sean is floored, and has something to share, himself: It's his helmet from Rudy, a bit scuffed up and in need of restoration. Joe takes it under his arm, thrilled to be close to such an emblem of hope. When the restoration is complete, the two meet again, and Sean is enlivened by the meaning that so many of his souvenirs have to so many people. He shows Joe his pack from The Lord of The Rings, a true gem, and asks Joe to keep an eye out for the dubloon from Goonies, which sadly got lost. Sean is thrilled with the restoration and display Joe worked out, and the two promise to keep in touch.

At auction, the Riddler items are touch and go, but eventually, Joe gets his investment back, plus a little more! The ruby slippers are a tougher sell - the $2 million dollar reserve price is incredibly intimidating, and not a single bid is offered. But now that the slippers are seeing the light of day, Joe won't give up the fight. He and his team call every buyer they can possibly think of, telling them that they can have the slippers, without the worry of auction, that day for $2 million.

It's a grueling fight, and Joe is the only one to find a buyer, but find one, he does! The ruby slippers are slowly but surely making their way to the public eye once again, and the team celebrates this enormous milestone in movie lovers' history.

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