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Local Historian is Hunting Fallen Golden Angels

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The Los Angeles that used to be can be haunting, and the focal point of many a noble pursuit. Such is the case with the long-gone golden angel statues that used to look down on 6th Street at Flower from the top of the also long-gone Richfield Building. A story in today's LA Times tracks the trajectory of one of the sculptures, which has found a new home in the loft of graphic designer and historian Eric Lynxwiler.

In 1929, 40 1 1/2 ton golden angels were placed around the top of the Richfield Building, which, with its oil derrick tower topping, "served as a monument to petroleum." Lead architect "Stiles O. Clements considered the Richfield Building his favorite work," according to the Pacific Coast Architecture Database. The site is now home to Arco Plaza.

The building was torn down over several months in 1968-1969. Before the building came down, though, the 10-foot-tall cast and kiln-fired terra cotta sculptures, which are of a "figure wearing a Roman soldier's helmet and breastplate and angel's wings," were removed, and auctioned off, albeit without their lower halves, since "the bottom of each figure's torso was lost" in the process. It cost them $100 apiece to remove, and that's about what each sold for. A couple of the figures lost their heads, and some were chipped, but all 40 went up for sale. Lynxwiler recently purchased his from someone who'd bought his for $150 at auction.

So where are the other 39 now? Lynxwiler blogged about wondering where his new figure's siblings are on LAObserved, but hasn't heard from any of the other statue owners, if they even exists. "Much of the rubble from demolished buildings ended up as fill material beneath Los Angeles-area freeways and it's possible that is where some of the Richfield sculptures went," Lynxwiler told the Times. His hope is someday to have his sculpture on display at a museum.