SAN ANTONIO – A Texas woman bought a first-century marble bust for $34.99 at a Goodwill in Austin — no, seriously.
Laura Young, an antiques dealer, bought the Roman bust at a Goodwill on Far West Boulevard in 2018, according to KUT.org.
Turns out the 50-pound, marble sculpture is about 2,000 years old.
Young contacted several auction houses and was able to confirm that the sculpture was once in a catalog of items from a German museum in the 1920s and 1930s, KUT reported.
Further research revealed that the bust was a Roman general named Drusus Germanicus.
How Germanicus’ bust ended up in a Goodwill in Austin is still a mystery.
According to KUT, however, the bust was in a museum collection during World War II in Aschaffenburg, Germany. The same place where a battle between Nazis and the U.S. Army took place.
Pompejanum, the name of the museum, was heavily damaged and much of the museum’s collection was either looted or destroyed.
“So unfortunately in this case, it might have been a U.S. soldier who either looted it himself or purchased it from someone who had looted the object,” Stephennie Mulder, an art history professor at the University of Texas at Austin, told Kut.
The next part is speculative, but at some point the bust traveled to the U.S. and ended up in someone’s house where it sat for decades. Then someone decided they didn’t want it anymore, and it was donated to Goodwill, where a $34.99 price tag was stuck to Germanicus’ marble cheek.
Young would be the next person to house Germanicus, but now she was in possession of a looted piece of 2,000 year old art.
“At that point, I realized I was probably going to need some help. I was probably going to need an attorney,” Young told Kut.
She hired a lawyer and after four years was able to work out a deal that would get Germanicus back to Germany.
The exact terms of the deal are confidential, KUT reported, but San Antonio managed to score a victory in the process.
Drusus Germanicus is currently on display at the San Antonio Museum of Art and he’ll be there until May 2023.
How does a Roman bust from a palace in Germany end up at a Goodwill in Austin, Texas? 🤔 Texas-based art collector Laura...Posted by San Antonio Museum of Art on Thursday, May 5, 2022
“By agreement with the Bavarian Administration of State-Owned Palaces, Gardens, and Lakes, the portrait will remain on display at the San Antonio Museum of Art until its return to Germany in 2023,” according to the San Antonio Museum of Art.
“It’ll be a little bittersweet to see him in the museum, but he needs to go home. He wasn’t supposed to be here,” Young said.