A marble bust that a Texas woman bought for around US$35 from a Goodwill store is temporarily on display at a San Antonio museum after experts determined it was a centuries-old sculpture missing in Germany since World War II.
The bust, which art collector Laura Young found at Goodwill in 2018, once belonged to the collection of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, according to the San Antonio Museum of Art, which is temporarily displaying the piece until be sent back to Germany next year.
The ancient Roman bust dates to the first century BC or first 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. It was last seen in Aschaffenburg, Germany, and experts believe a soldier took the sculpture and brought it to the United States, says the museum.
A Sotheby’s consultant identified the work and it was later authenticated, the museum said.
“We are very pleased that a piece of Bavarian history that we thought was lost has reappeared and can soon find its rightful place,” said Bernd Schreiber, chairman of the Bavarian Administration for Castles, Gardens and Lakes belonging to the State.
Young said there were a few months of “intense excitement” after learning the story behind the coin, which she 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 this agreement were confidential.
“But it was bittersweet because I knew I couldn’t keep or sell the (bust),” she said. “Anyway, I’m glad I got to be part of a small part of (his) long and complicated story, and he looked great in the house while I had him.”