Long-lost artwork has returned to Los Angeles library

View of the entire ‘Well of Scribes’ bronze, circa 1926. The panel on the right has been recovered; the whereabouts of the remaining two panels is unknown. Los Angeles Public Library image

LOS ANGELES (AP) – A bronze sculpture that mysteriously disappeared from the Los Angeles Central Library 50 years ago has returned to its original home.

One of three panels of the Well of Scribes was unveiled at the downtown library Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The panel depicting writers from different cultures vanished in 1969 when the library underwent a renovation. The story of its disappearance was revived in Susan Orlean’s 2018 novel The Library Book, which inspired Alta magazine’s managing editor to investigate its whereabouts.

An article published in the magazine‘s July edition caught the attention of an antique dealer in Arizona who bought the panel from a woman for $500 years earlier.

Floyd Lillard in Bisbee, Arizona, recognized the sculpture in question, contacted the library and gave it back.

City Librarian John Szabo says the discovery has given him hope that the other two panels might turn up one day.

“Up until now, we thought (the sculpture) might have been destroyed or was in someone’s backyard,” he said. “We just didn’t know if it would ever be found.”

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AP-WF-10-05-19 2110GMT