Piece of sculpture missing for 50 years found in Bisbee antique store

Published: Sep. 17, 2019 at 6:52 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Los Angeles Public Library is renowned for its design and architecture, but for 50 years, something has been missing.

A sculpture that sat outside the main building hasn't been seen since 1969.

Though recently, it's resurfaced.

In the tiny town of Bisbee, it's easy to get lost.

Lost in the music, the art and all its rich history.

But there's an abundance of things you'll find inside antique stores like Miners and Merchants.

"My mom started the business in 1960," said Floyd Lillard, who owns the store. Lillard found joy in the family business. "It just never gets old."

Contrary to the items in his shop, "There's always new stuff to find. Always something new to learn."

It was about ten years ago, he made what he said might be his coolest discovery yet.

"It's like having a half the Mona Lisa," said Lillard.

But what was it and where did it come from?

The questions he asked for years, but research was stalled as he battled cancer.

"If I hadn't made it through, no one would have remembered," he said. "No one would have known."

Little did he know, he had part of the Well of the Scribes - a piece of Los Angeles history.

"Eureka! Yeah - it was a eureka moment," he said.

It went missing from the city library 50 years ago and was never seen again.

"I don't know what possessed me to type in the keywords on Google to find that."

His research brought him to a photo in a small California newspaper.

"You could only see half of the well in the picture," Lillard said. "That's the half that I had."

It was enough evidence to partially close the case.

"It would have just wound up in somebody else's garden."

A 50 year-old mystery solved - lost but found among antiques, in a town with plenty of its own stories to tell.

Lillard is working with the LA Library to figure out how to get this piece of art back home safe and sound.

There are still two pieces of the well missing. Lillard hopes if others have the pieces; they’ll come forward and return them.

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