Op-shop sold a bust for $34.99 is an ancient Roman relic

Young was on vacation, celebrating her 40th birthday, when she received the email from Bonhams. She wanted to go home immediately.

“He was at my house, alone,” she said.

But subsequent research, authenticated by the Bavarian government, quickly confirmed that Young would not be able to sell the piece and fulfill the fantasy of anyone who has ever haunted Goodwill stores and garage sales for priceless treasures.

At some point before 1833, the bust had been acquired by Ludwig I, a Bavarian king, who put it on display in the courtyard of the Pompejanum, his replica of a Roman villa at Pompeii, in the Bavarian town of Aschaffenburg, according to Young’s attorney, Leïla A. Amineddoleh.

The Pompejanum was heavily damaged by Allied bombings in 1944 and 1945, and while some of its items survived, others disappeared, Amineddoleh said.

The looting of art by the Nazis received wide attention. But because the bust ended up in Texas, it’s likely a US serviceman stole or traded it after the war, Amineddoleh said.

This meant that Young was not the rightful owner because Germany had never sold the coin or relinquished title, Amineddoleh said. Young said Goodwill was also unable to provide answers about the origins of the bust.

“Immediately I was like, ‘OK, I can’t keep it and I can’t sell it either,'” Young said. “It was extremely bittersweet, to say the least. But I only control what I can control, and stealing art, looting during a war, is a crime I can’t be part of it.

So Young made a deal to have the bust sent back to Bavaria. In return, she will only receive a “small finder’s fee”, which Amineddoleh declined to disclose.

“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. in a statement released by the San Antonio Museum of Art.

The bust is thought to represent either a son of Pompey the Great, who was defeated in battle by Julius Caesar, or Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus, a Roman commander whose forces once occupied German territory.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

Leave a Comment