EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) – A valuable bronze sculpture that went missing for more than twenty years has made its way back in to the hands of its creator, thanks to one honest citizen and a Google search.
For the last ten years, Eugene resident Anne Caldwell was hanging on to a square bas relief sculpture of a man throwing a discus. She found it in 2003 while cleaning out a property she owned in the Whiteaker neighborhood. She was cleaning out the property after evicting a tenant.
Anne didn't think much of the sculpture when she found it and ended up placing it in her yard until recently. However, in the last few months, Anne thought that the sculpture just might belong to an artist.
Anne then went to Eugene Police (EPD) with the piece, hoping that the department might be able to locate its rightful owner. A crime prevention specialist with EPD, Tod Schneider stepped in to help. He did a Google search for 'discus thrower sculptor Eugene'.
After looking through a few results, Tod ended up finding Mike Leckie, a longtime Eugene artist who has sculpted for decades. Eugene Police and Anne returned the sculpture to Mike on Friday, February 1.
Leckie was commissioned in 1989 to make the sculpture for the World Veterans Championships track meet in Eugene that year. Leckie says only a few bronze castings were made.
“Anne actually is a friend of my neighbors, so we had met in the past,” said Leckie. “And you know, it's Eugene. It's a small town and I think that's kind of cool because this really is a piece that disappeared and it just resurfaced again,” said Leckie.
“I think it's great when things are returned that have . . . disappeared in some unfortunate way,” said Caldwell.
Leckie says in the 90s, he originally lent the sculpture to a Eugene art gallery named Alder Street Gallery.
The gallery closed years ago and according to the artist, the woman who ran it passed away. When the gallery closed, Mike says the piece went missing and he presumed it was long gone.
With the sculpture back in his possession, Leckie says he will clean up the patina, the finish on the piece.) Other than that, he plans on keeping the sculpture.
The sculpture is very valuable as well: Leckie estimates he would normally sell the bronze work for around $6,000.