A 2,000 year old Roman artifact that a Texas woman purchased at a thrift store for only $35 will be sent back to Germany after an investigation into its origins.
Back in 2018, Laura Young went to an Austin, Texas, Goodwill store and picked up a bust of a Roman that cost $34.99. Little did she know it was an ancient artifact that historians believe Allied soldiers took in Germany during World War II.
“I got it outside in the light,” Young said, reflecting on when she first purchased the statue. “He had chips to the base. He had clear repairs. He looks old. I’ve been to museums. I’ve seen Roman portrait heads before.”
She said that the statue was “pretty dirty” once she found it, and had a worker carry the 52-pound bust out to her car.
According to historians and researchers, the bust is probably the Roman general Drusus Germanicus or Pompey the Great’s son, and was kept in the villa of a Bavarian king. One theory is that during fighting in Aschaffenburg, Germany, near the end of the war, it was taken from the museum where it was kept.
It will be returned to Bavaria where it will go on display at a museum after negotiations over ownership of the head. However, for the next year, the bust will be able to be seen at the San Antonio Art Museum.
While the investigation into the true nature of the marble bust was ongoing, Young kept the bust in her living room across from the TV.
“It was on a small credenza close to the entryway of our house. Facing the TV. So you could see his reflection in the TV when you’re watching TV,” she said, according to Austin’s NPR station. “Every time you walk into the kitchen, you pass the head. Every time you walk into the house, he greets you. He’s there. He was a constant presence.”
She nicknamed the bust “Dennis,” after a character in the TV sitcom “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.”
“It hurt a little bit. It was bittersweet. Like, it’s nice that there’s a resolution to it and that it’s working out for the best,” she said. “It’ll be a little bittersweet to see him in the museum, but he needs to go home. He wasn’t supposed to be here.”
Questions still exist about how the bust ended up in a Texas Goodwill, but the going theory is that an American soldier took it with him coming back from Europe, though it might have been difficult to take such a large object back discreetly.
This isn’t the first time that Young has picked up something valuable at the thrift store. She previously picked up a Chinese painting worth $63,000 for barely anything.