A section of a statue that went missing from the Los Angeles Central Library without a trace over 50 years ago has been found in Arizona.
The three-section bronze sculpture "Well of the Scribes" was created by Lee Lawrie to evoke the Los Angeles Central Library’s unique iconography, said City Librarian John F. Szabo. The sculpture was part of the library’s west lawn garden from the day the library opened in 1926 until 1969, when the gardens were demolished to make way for a parking lot.
Szabo said "Well of the Scribes" went missing without a trace some time after the demolition. The mystery inspired author Susan Orelan to write about the statue in her 2018 work, "The Library Book," and The Journal of Alta California subsequently published an article focusing on the statue in June.
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Szabo said Floyd Lillard, an antiques dealer from Bisbee, Arizona, emailed the Central Library after the story was published. Lillard’s email claimed he was in possession of a section of the "Well of the Scribes," and attached was a photo of the elusive statue.
"My jaw dropped, I was absolutely breathless, I was thrilled," Szabo said.
Szabo said he traveled to Brisbee soon after receiving the email.
"I went to the little apartment that Floyd lives in above his antique store. And there, in his apartment, was the western portion of the 'Well of the Scribes,'" Szabo said.
Although the central and eastern portions of the statue are still missing, Szabo said the Central Library is thrilled to have one section back..
"The Los Angeles Public Library is about stories. It’s about telling stories, preserving stories and it is about gathering stories," Szabo said. "And today, at the Central Library, we have a new story to tell."