Musician Reunited With $22,000 Flute After Homeless Man Tried To Pawn It For $500


Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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A Missouri musician who lost a $22,000 flute on the Chicago subway was reunited with his instrument after a homeless man tried pawning it for a $500 loan, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Donald Rabin was visiting Chicago when he realized he had lost his flute on a train seat in late January. He spent hours frantically searching for the instrument, which was given to him by his grandmother, and then Chicago police, according to the Sun-Times.

He then took to Facebook with the hopes of tracking the flute down. Lukas Mcentee, a homeless man who picked up the flute, commented on a Facebook post with a picture of the flute, Rabin said, hours before Rabin was scheduled to fly out of Chicago, the Chicago Tribune reported. Then Mcentee sent a receipt showing he had used it as collateral for a $500 loan at a pawn shop. 

Rabin notified police when Mcentee told him to go to the pawn shop with him, where he’d have to pay back the loan to retrieve his flute. “But I did not want that to happen,” Rabin said, according to the Sun-Times.

Gabe Coconate, the owner of the pawn shop West Town Jewelry & Loan, held onto the flute and was trying to determine its value after Mcentee brought it in, saying it was rare. He agreed to give Mcentee the loan. Then he saw the reports of the missing flute on the news.

“I had never seen something like that before. I didn’t even think it was gold,” Coconate said, according to the Sun-Times. “My wife goes, ‘That’s not the flute that came in?’ And I’m like, ‘Son of a b—-, yes it is. That is the flute,’”

Coconate called the police and told them he had the flute, and the police told him to hold onto it so he could turn it in. Mcentee, however, kept returning, and Coconate told him he was in contact with police. (RELATED: Kennedy Center Lays Off Musicians After Receiving $25 Million Arts Bailout)

“I go, ‘Listen man, it’s been all over the news. It’s not your flute,’” he said, according to the Sun-Times.

Rabin was soon reunited with his flute and helped promote a fundraiser for Mcentee, who is seeking donations to cover rent for him and his wife. He also thanked the police for aiding in the effort and played “Over the Rainbow” during a news conference at the police station Thursday. 

“I’m just thankful that I have the flute in my hand, that I can make music again and I can make people smile,” Rabin told the Sun-Times.