Left waiting for years on art won at silent auction, bidder turns to Problem Solvers for help

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- There’s a wall of art in Jeff Shrout’s Independence home that is a tribute to an iconic Kansas City restaurant – JJ’s.

“It was a tragedy,” said Shrout, referring to the day in 2013 when the restaurant caught fire and exploded because of a gas leak in the street, causing the death of a JJ’s employee.

It was a few months later that a fundraiser was held to help JJ’s employees pay their bills until the restaurant could rebuild and reopen. Shrout was one of hundreds to buy a ticket.

“I went down there to support them, “ said Shrout who works in construction.

He bid on multiple pieces of art at the fundraiser’s silent auction and, as luck would have it, ended up winning almost every piece he bid on. That’s how he created his wall of JJ’s art in the dining room of his home.

However, four years later he’s still waiting for one piece – a print of a 1993 Hanabusa painting. Shrout had the winning bid of $205, but the print wasn’t at the silent auction that night.

“It was supposedly hanging in a bar in Paris,” Shrout recalled.

According to the bid sheet, Willi’s Wine Bar in Paris was supposed to send it to him as soon as the auction was over. Except it never arrived. For a while, Shrout kept in contact with one of the silent auction volunteers who contacted the owner of Willi’s Wine Bar on Shrout’s behalf. But still, no luck.

Years later, Shrout still wonders what happened to his Hanabusa, which is why he called FOX 4 Problem Solvers. We also contacted Willi’s Wine Bar, but never heard back.

That’s when we turned to the JJ’s employee who had been in charge of that 2013 fundraiser Jim Ligon. Ligon had no idea that Shrout’s print had never arrived.

Ligon said he and other JJ's employees were still touched by how people like Shrout and hundreds of others supported them after the fire. So solving Shrout’s problem was no problem for Ligon, who took up a collection among JJ’s employees to buy that Hanabusa print for Shrout.

It should arrive soon at Shrout’s home. And when it does, he’ll hang it proudly on his wall.