Piece Of Los Angeles Central Library Sculpture That Went Missing In 1969 Found In Bisbee, Arizona

By Kaely Monahan, Lauren Gilger, Steve Goldstein
Published: Thursday, October 10, 2019 - 4:27pm
Updated: Friday, October 11, 2019 - 8:59am

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Well of Scribes
Los Angeles Public Library
Los Angeles Public Library Librarian John F. Szabo with the found section of the "Well of Scribes."

This story is part mystery, part recovery — and very unexpected. At the center of it is a missing sculpture, a Bisbee antique seller and the Los Angeles Central Library.

The sculpture in question is a bronze panel called the “Well of the Scribes.” Fifty years ago it looked over the west lawn of the downtown library in LA, stately surveying the reflecting pools and gardens.

Then, in 1969 when the gardens were demolished to make way for a parking lot, it disappeared without a trace. Experts say the panel sculpture probably weighed more than 3,000 pounds.

There were concerns that the sculpture might have been melted down or destroyed. And many people forgot about it until the author Susan Orlean wrote about it in her 2018 bestseller “The Library Book.”

Antique shop owner, Floyd Lillard read the book and realized Orlean’s description of the “Well of the Scribes” sounded very familiar. Turns out, a piece of the sculpture was in his shop. He contacted the Los Angeles library and they sent experts to go check it out.

It was indeed part of the missing sculpture. How the whole sculpture disappeared is still a mystery — but at least one piece gets to return home.

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