Man tries to return found art stolen from Portland restaurant over 25 years ago

A man is looking for the family of a former Portland restaurant owner, after finding a piece of art that was stolen been stolen more than 25 years ago.
Published: Sep. 10, 2023 at 10:34 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - A man says he is trying to track down the family of a former Portland restaurant owner, after finding a piece of art that he recognized as having been stolen from the business more than 25 years ago.

In 1996, the former Ye Old Towne Crier restaurant in SE Portland had been open since the 1950′s. It was a pub and community hub at the intersection of SE Holgate and SE 41st, which is now occupied by a coffee shop and other businesses.

Scott Gravning, who was working as a garbage man in the neighborhood at the time, said the owner of the restaurant would often let him stop inside for bathroom breaks.

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He said a particular painting on a wood panel, depicting a scene from the Revolutionary War, was part of a collection the owner treasured. Gravning said he remembered how devastated the owner was when it was stolen.

“It was like one of his children I guess, he was really attached to these things,” Gravning said. “What I understand was that he closed the restaurant over this sign, he was that upset.”

The restaurant closed later that year, and Gravning moved to another part of town nearly seven miles east.

One day, he was shocked by what he found right next to his house.

“I found this laying outside on a wood pile. I knew exactly what it was, and I thought, ‘I need to return this.’”

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Online obituaries indicate a man named Clifford Shaffer may have owned the restaurant at that time, but Gravning can’t personally recall his name and he hasn’t been able to get in touch with the family, and new businesses have since moved in.

“I came back here the day I found it to try and find him, and learned that he’d passed away, so I googled some stuff and no luck, I couldn’t find anybody,” he said. “So years went by, and I’m going through my stuff again and this came back out, and I knew I had to come to Portland.”

Gravning doesn’t know if he’ll find answers, but he believes it’s worth one last try.

“For him and the family … I’m sure it means something to somebody,” he said.

If you have any information to share about who the owner was or who his family might be, you can contact the KPTV newsroom at or (503) 906-1249.