A priceless piece of art designed as a promotional piece for a Jimmy Buffett concert tour has been returned to the man who created it, years after it vanished.

If this brightly colored tropical creation could tell you the story of its adventure, it would share the admiration it received once created, it would tell you of the voyage to a new location and coming into the hands of someone with an unexpected plan.  The glass protecting the delicate paper would describe a new owner, grateful yet with a twinge of guilt, and the search to bring it full circle to its creator.

Leigh Anglin received the original Jimmy Buffett tour artwork as a gift for volunteering at a media awards event. Despite his gratitude, there was a gut feeling that it truly wasn’t his to keep, but his role was for safekeeping, so he started his search for the artist to return it.

"If it was my piece I’d want it back and I always felt a little uncomfortable with the committee giving it to me and not sending it back to the artist even though they didn’t have to," said Anglin. "A few years went by and I tried to contact the company but they had gone out of business."

Artist Mark McKinnon was searching for the layered paper sculpture secured in a shadow box.  He had submitted the artwork in a media awards event.  First the event’s contact offered to buy it, which Mark declined and requested it returned.  The next thing he knew, the work of art was missing.

"I started to tear up about the fact that Leigh was doing almost what we were doing on different sides of the US," explained McKinnon. "I’m searching for it on my end and he’s searching for the person who wanted it back because he knew I wanted it back, but didn’t know me personally.  It’s amazing."

The one of a kind piece of art seemed to vanish according the Mark, despite numerous searches and posts on fan pages and social media. He gave up on searching in 2015 saying it created too much anxiety each time he thought about it.  Meanwhile he had no idea his precious art was being perfectly cared for by Leigh, tucked in a cool dark closet in Sioux Falls South Dakota.

The growth of information online over the years finally led Leigh to the business that Mark worked for at the time the piece was made.  The company made backstage passes, satin all-access stickers and other promotional print items for rock bands and artists’ concert tours.  The designs made by Mark were revered in the industry.  Although that company had gone out of business, A few more phone calls finally connected the two.

On a chilly February day, the warmth of a new friendship was felt as Mark and his family flew from Reno to Sioux Falls to meet Leigh and his family and make the exchange.  Mark says there is a life lesson in the journey:

"Not giving up; don’t give up hope. I had all kinds of images in my head of how it got stolen or how it disappeared and all that and it was completely, absolutely wrong against Leigh, who was the recipient of it," said McKinnon. "I don’t know the hands that passed from that point but he took care of it as if it.  He loved it just as much as I did."

And despite Mark’s offer to pay money to get the piece back, Leigh refused.

"That’s why I told Mark, I don’t want any money or anything like that.  I just want to get it back to the person who created it and that’s what happened."

A new friendship was born and the vibrant masterpiece went on a flight home with the man who created it 17 years ago.

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