$34.99 Thrift Store Purchase Turns Out To Be An Ancient Roman Relic

A specialist used a digital database to trace the provenance of the bust and found photos from the 1930s showing the head in Aschaffenburg, Bavaria, Germany.

A marble bust that a Texas woman bought for about $35 at Goodwill, a thrift store, is on temporary display at a San Antonio museum after experts determined it is a centuries-old sculpture missing in Germany since the WWII.

The bust, which art collector Laura Young found at Goodwill in 2018, was once in the collection of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, according to the San Antonio Museum of Art, which is temporarily displaying the piece until it is returned to Germany on next year.

The ancient Roman bust dates to the 1st century BC or 1st century AD and historians believe it may represent a son of Pompey the Great, who was defeated in civil war by Julius Caesar, the museum said. The sculpture was last seen in Aschaffenburg, Germany, and experts believe a soldier took the sculpture to the United States, the museum said.

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A Sotheby’s consultant identified the work and authenticated it, the museum said.

“We are very pleased that a piece of Bavarian history that we thought was lost has reappeared and can soon return to its rightful location,” said Bernd Schreiber, chairman of the Bavarian Palaces, Gardens and Lakes Administration.

Young said it was a few months of “intense emotion” after learning the story of the piece, which he found on the floor under a table at a Goodwill in Austin, Texas.

Young reached an agreement to return the bust to Germany with the help of a lawyer specializing in international art law, Austin radio station KUT reported. The terms of the agreement were confidential.

“But it was bittersweet as I knew I couldn’t keep or sell the (bust),” he said. “Anyway, I’m glad I was able to be a small part of (his) long and complicated history of his, and it went very well in the house while I had it.”

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FEW (AP, New York Times)

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