Entering a local Goodwill store four years ago, Texas art collector Laura Young said she braced herself not to find anything that day.
She told CTV National News. “As an agent, you have to go, but there’s a high chance I’ll leave empty-handed, so I’m excited when I find anything interesting.”
And she did.
On the floor, under a table, for a bargain $34.99, Young spotted what appeared to be a Roman bust.
“He looked very old. I tried to pick him up and he weighed 52 pounds,” Young said.
“So at that point, I was pretty focused on trying to find a mechanic who could bring it to the front for me and I, really, I bought him as fast as I could and got in the car. “
Now, after a years-long fact-finding mission, Young has learned that the bust is not only real, dating back some 2,000 years, but that it once belonged to a Bavarian king.
“I was obviously excited, nervous,” Young said. “Obviously it’s the best I’ve ever found.”
The San Antonio Museum of Art, whose bust is on temporary display before its return to Germany in 2023, said the sculpture once stood in the town of Aschaffenburg, in a full-scale model. of a house from Pompeii called Pompejanum that was built by King Ludwig I of Bavaria.
Allied bombers targeted the town and severely damaged Pompejanum during the Second World War, after which the bust disappeared.
The US military later set up military facilities in Aschaffenburg, and the museum says a returning soldier likely brought the sculpture back to Texas.
Bernd Schreiber, chairman of the Bavarian State Authority for Palaces, Gardens and Lakes, said: “We are delighted that a piece of history that we thought was lost has reappeared and will may soon return to its rightful place. in a newsletter from the San Antonio Museum.
“We’d like to take this opportunity to thank the San Antonio Museum of Art for helping them return the ancient portrait.”
As for who the mysterious Roman might be, the San Antonio Museum says the bust may be the son of Pompey the Great, who was defeated in a civil war by Julius Caesar.
“Yes, the plot is just the cherry on top,” Young said. “It’s absurd.”
With files from the Associated Press