Goodwill: How did an ancient Roman sculpture end up in store in Texas?

Laura Young was shopping at a Goodwill in Austin, Texas, in 2018 when she found a sculpture of a human head for sale for $34.99. She bought the statue and it sat in her home until she contacted a London auction house that identified the piece as a lost, ancient Roman bust, according to NBC News.

How Did an Ancient Roman Bust End Up at a Goodwill in Texas? The bust’s journey is still unknown, but it is highly likely that it was transported to the US by an American soldier after World War II, according to The New York Times.

  • The bust was traced to Germany in the 1800s as part of the art collection of a Bavarian king, according to the New York Times.
  • The San Antonio Museum of Art reported that the piece was in a full-size replica of a Pompeii house called Pompejanum. During World War II, Allied bombers heavily damaged the house and the statue has disappeared.
  • An American soldier is believed to have brought the bust to the US, where its whereabouts were unknown until it appeared in Goodwill in 2018, according to NPR Austin.
  • “We can guess that it has been in someone’s home for decades. Maybe the person who took it died or maybe they gave it away. But somehow someone decided they didn’t want it anymore and dropped it off at Goodwill,” NPR said.

Whose bust is this? An auction house Young contacted was able to trace the piece to a catalog of items from a German museum in the 1920s and 1930s, according to NPR Austin.

  • The catalog listed the bust as a likeness of a man named Drusus Germanicus. Other experts believe it could be Sextus Pompey, the son of Roman general Pompey the Great, according to NBC News.
  • The bust is likely from the late 1st century BC or early 1st century AD, according to NBC.

What will happen to the bust? According to the museum’s website, the bust will be on display at the San Antonio Museum of Art for a year.

  • Since Germany never sold the bust or gave up the title, it did not belong to Young. After the San Antonio exhibit comes to an end, the bust will return to its home in Bavaria, according to The New York Times.
  • In exchange for the arrest, Young will receive a “finder’s fee,” the Times reported.
  • Before sending the piece to the museum, Young had a 3D model printed of the statue, which now stands in her home where the original once was, according to NPR Austin.

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