A marble bust that a Texas woman bought for about $35 US from a Goodwill store is temporarily on display at a San Antonio museum after experts determined it was a centuries-old sculpture missing from Germany since the Second World War.
The bust, which art collector Laura Young found at Goodwill in 2018, once belonged 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 next year.
The ancient Roman bust dates to the first century BC or first century AD and historians believe it may depict a son of Pompey the Great, who was defeated in civil war by Julius Caesar, the museum said. It was last seen in Aschaffenburg, Germany, and experts believe a soldier took the sculpture and brought it to the United States, the museum said.
A Sotheby’s consultant identified the work and it was further authenticated, the museum said.
“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,” said Bernd Schreiber, president of the Bavarian Administration of State-Owned Palaces, Gardens and Lakes.
Young said 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 a Goodwill in Austin, Texas.
Young reached a deal to return the bust to Germany with the help of an attorney who specializes in international art law, Austin radio station KUT reported. Terms of that deal were confidential.
“But it was bittersweet since I knew I couldn’t keep or sell the (bust),” she said. “Either way, I’m glad I got to be a small part of (its) long and complicated history, and he looked great in the house while I had him.”