Alta featured a Cold Case article in its summer 2019 issue about a bronze sculpture known as the Well of the Scribes that went missing from the Los Angeles Central Library 50 years ago. An antiques dealer in Bisbee, Arizona, named Floyd Lillard came across the story soon after it posted online. He was performing a semiregular ritual: searching the web for clues about this thing he had in his apartment. A piece of curving bronze sculpture depicting a procession of scribes. He’d been in the business long enough to know it was something important.
Alta is thrilled to report that what Lillard has is a section of the Well itself. It hadn’t been melted down or forgotten in a warehouse like the Ark of the Covenant. It had been dismantled. Lillard bought this section about 10 years ago from a woman in Sierra Vista, a town near Bisbee. She was from California; her father, Lillard vaguely remembers, worked for the city. Lillard bought the piece from her for $500. He hauled it out of her garden and back to Bisbee.
After our article ran, Lillard put in calls to Alta and the Los Angeles Central Library. The city librarian, John Szabo, has already been out to visit and confirmed the sculpture’s authenticity. There are discussions afoot to return the piece to its home in downtown L.A.
But, gentle reader, you see that this is a mystery only partly solved:
WHO IS THE WOMAN FROM SIERRA VISTA?
WHERE ARE THE TWO OTHER PIECES OF THE WELL?
LILLARD’S MEMORY IS PATCHY. BUT SUDDENLY IT’S
LOOKING A LOT MORE LIKE THE REST OF THE WELL IS
STILL OUT THERE, SPARED THE SMELTER’S TOUCH.
So we’re enlisting you to help us reunite the Well of the Scribes once and for all. Ever seen an architectural relic in the backyard of a family friend or at a cousin’s place that looks an awful lot like Pegasus brokering a deal? Let us know! You can email firstname.lastname@example.org. (We won’t share your name if you don’t want us to.) Stay tuned. There’s more treasure out there.
This find is making headlines around the country:
A long lost sculpture returns to L.A. but the mystery continues — Los Angeles Times
Portion of a missing sculpture returned to Central Library — Los Angeles Downtown News
Lost for decades, bronze library sculpture turns up in Arizona — Curbed Los Angeles
Mystery Solved: Sculpture missing for 50 years found in Bisbee — Herald/Review
A piece of a sculpture missing for 50 years was found in a Bisbee antique store — KOLD News 13 (video)
Piece of missing sculpture resurfaces in antiques store 50 years later — UPI (video)
Arizona antique dealer helps Los Angeles Library reunite with lost art — Arizona Daily Star
The final two pieces of the Well of the Scribes remain unaccounted for—but they’re out there somewhere. If you have any information on their whereabouts, please drop us a line at email@example.com.