A bronze sculpture listed in the FBIs National Stolen Art File may have been found among the items in an Arizona mans estate.

The shocking revelation has the mans relatives working to return the possible treasure.

Its a beautiful piece, said Arlin Cook.

He and his family inherited the two-foot-tall sculpture of a cowboy when his brother-in-law died last year in Scottsdale. The piece was on the mantle of his brother-in-laws fireplace for more than 30 years, he said.

The unsuspecting work of art is now in Cooks Gilbert home.

He said the family started researching the sculpture because the piece looked valuable. They were curious to learn more about its background.

In their online research, they found a video and story about missing art the ABC15 Investigators had done in May. The sculpture of a missing cowboy looked very familiar.

The ABC15 story profiled several Arizona paintings and sculptures listed in the FBIs National Stolen Art File, an online database of missing art.

Cook believes the sculpture he inherited is the one taken decades ago from the Mammen Gallery II in Scottsdale. New Mexico artist Gordon Snidow made a series of sculptures in the early 1980s, showing a cowboy dressed in chaps, sitting and taking a break. He called the sculptures Just a Pinch after a tobacco companys slogan: Just a pinch between your cheek and gum.

The FBI report doesnt say when the sculpture was stolen or its value.

The stolen sculpture in the FBI file is listed as being No. 20 out of 40. The piece Cook inherited has the artists signature etched on the base as well as the numbers 20/40.

I was kind of shocked, Cook said.

He called the ABC15 Investigators after realizing he may have artwork that was stolen.

We wanted to get it back to wherever it was supposed to be, he said.

But it turns out, its not that easy.

Cook said he and his family tried to get through to the FBI, calling several times. But they were on hold during one attempt for close to an hour.

He then called Scottsdale police, thinking they could help because the sculpture was taken from an art gallery in that city. But Scottsdale told him to call Gilbert police to complete an initial report because Cook lives in Gilbert.

Instead, Cook said the family kept calling the FBI. They were finally able to reach someone and left their information.

It could be weeks — or — months before the family learns whether the sculpture is the stolen one. The FBI tells ABC15 the information has been forwarded to the bureaus Art Crime Team, a group of agents who specialize in art and cultural property crime.

ABC15 also reached out by phone to Bob Wittman, former FBI senior investigator, and founder of the FBI Art Crime Team. He said based on the information Cook provided, the sculptures number matches the one in the National Stolen Art File.

Its a good bet that this is the stolen artwork, Wittman said.

Wittman FBI agents will likely conduct interviews and investigate to find out whether theres any criminal culpability involving anyone who is still alive. If not, the pieces are generally returned to their owners.

In this case, Wittman said its unclear who the owner is. It could be the art gallery. Or it could also be an insurance company if there was a claim paid out.

Cook has no idea how the art ended up at his brother-in-laws home.

To protect privacy, Cook asked that his brother-in-law only be referred to by his first name, which was Tom.

Tom was definitely a good-hearted guy. He would not have stolen, Cook said. I think he probably got it in a trade because he traded antiques.

The art gallery where the Just a Pinch sculpture went missing was sold in 1989 and is no longer there, said Nancy Emmons, daughter of the gallerys owners, Bob and Betty Mammen.

She didnt recall when the sculpture was taken. But she said a series of art thefts happened in the 1980s at Scottsdale galleries.

She was excited to hear the cowboy sculpture may finally have finally surfaced in a Scottsdale estate, less than 10 miles from where it was last seen.

Im shocked to hear any of the pieces would be found, she said.

Email ABC15 Investigator Anne Ryman at anne.ryman@abc15.com, call her at 602-685-6345, or connect on