Christine Andrews had been wondering for months where her mandolin was. Then her husband found it online while scrolling through Pittsburgh International Airport’s auction list.
“My husband had just come back from Greece, and we didn’t realize it was missing until we were getting ready to take another trip,” said Andrews, of Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood. “We were looking everywhere for it and couldn’t figure out where it had gone.”
Where it had gone was the airport parking lot. Someone found the mandolin Aug. 5, in its case, on the ground next to a parking space and turned it in.
Christine Andrews reclaims her lost mandolin at Pittsburgh International Airport on Friday, Oct. 20, 2022. (Photo by Freya Colonello)
With no identifiable names or contact information, the instrument sat in the airport’s lost and found with no claims until earlier this month when it was slated to be sold along with more than 8,000 other items in the annual auction on Saturday, Oct. 21, at the airport’s Heavy Equipment Building.
Blue Sky News then featured the instrument in a story about the auction, which triggered local media coverage—and where Andrews’ husband, George, then saw it.
“He said to me, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s the mandolin!’” said Andrews, who has many musicians in her family. “I recognized it instantly.”
She called airport staff, who asked her a series of questions to determine if she was the rightful owner. She picked it up Friday at the airport.
“Everyone at the airport has been so nice and helpful. The whole thing is so crazy—it’s given me hope for humanity,” Andrews said. “My husband just couldn’t believe he had left it there.”
Although the mandolin was no longer available, more than 800 people attended the auction, bidding on more than 8,000 items, including 300 pieces of electronics ranging from computers to Kindles. Jewelry bargain hunters bought 350 bracelets, rings and necklaces.
Licensed auctioneer Joe R. Pyle again led the proceedings, with a 2000 New Holland tractor the airport authority used for brush cutting being the high-dollar item with a $23,000 winning bid. A 2019 Hyundai Sonata left in the airport’s parking lots netted $13,250.
Final sales totals and net proceeds won’t be known for a few weeks.
As for the mandolin, the airport was just happy to find the owner.
“Any time you can get items back to the owners, that’s really the goal,” said Elise Gomez, Manager of Customer Experience. “We make every effort to reunite lost items but in most cases there’s no identifiable information.”