The thrill of the thrift turned intense after a Texas woman scored a marble bust at her local Goodwill store. Turns out, the head was a centuries-old sculpture missing from Germany since World War II. Laura Young’s find-of-a-lifetime is now on display at a San Antonio museum.
Art collector Young knew she had discovered a treasure when she bought a marble bust at a Goodwill in 2018.
Experts say the ancient Roman bust dates to the first century B.C. or first century A.D. Historians believe it may depict a son of Pompey the Great, who was defeated in civil war by Julius Caesar. The sculpture was last seen in Aschaffenburg, Germany.
A consultant from fine art brokers at Sotheby’s identified the work. Other experts further authenticated it as well, according to the San Antonio Museum of Art.
Experts believe a soldier stole the sculpture and brought it to the United States.
Suddenly, “Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit” became reality. (Proverbs 10:2) Young’s $35 bargain was a legal problem.
The stolen artifact once belonged in the collection of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, according to the museum. Today, the museum is temporarily displaying the piece until it is returned to Germany next year.
“We are very pleased that a piece of Bavarian history that we thought was lost has reappeared and will soon be able to return to its rightful location,” says Bernd Schreiber, president of the Bavarian Administration of State-Owned Palaces, Gardens, and Lakes.
Young says there were a few months of “intense excitement” after learning the history behind the piece, which she found on the floor beneath a table at an Austin, Texas, Goodwill.
“But it was bittersweet since I knew I couldn’t keep or sell the [bust],” she says. “Either way, I’m glad I got to be a small part of [its] long and complicated history.”
Young reached a deal to return the bust to Germany through an attorney specializing in international art law. Terms of that arrangement are confidential.
Still, Young says, “He looked great in the house while I had him.”
(A marble bust bought for about $35 from a Goodwill store. San Antonio Museum of Art via AP)