Laura Young next to the item she found in a thrift store

In 2018, Laura Young bought a bust at Goodwill, a thrift store in Austin, Texas, for just $35.

He immediately took a photo of him after tying him up in the front seat of his car.

The independent antiques dealer told the BBC she went to the thrift store “hoping to find something cool”.

But after a detailed examinationunder the sunlight, it seemed to him that the bust could be “very, very old”, he recalls.

Then he quickly googled “Roman marble busts” and after seeing photos he thought they looked alike.

Young began to investigate and discovered that the statue he had just purchased was a 2000 year old roman bust from the 1st century BC or the 1st century AD. c.

It was an item of incalculable value.

“I’m not even sure how it is possible to put a significant monetary value on something that has such an important history, but otherwise could never be sold”, says Lynley McAlpine of the San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas.

He claims that the bust could represent Sextus Pompey, a Roman military leader who fought against Julius Caesar.

Laura Young next to the item she found in a thrift store

Further investigation revealed that the origin of the bust dates back to Germany, specifically to an idealized replica of a Roman villa in Bavaria that exhibited original artifacts alongside replicas.

Probably looted during the war

The “Roman Villa” of Pompejanum, located in the city of Aschaffenburg, was built in the 1840s and was severely destroyed by Allied bombing during World War II.

It is not clear how that bust from Aschaffenburg got to Austin, but it is believed that a american soldier transported the statue To united states.

American troops were stationed in Aschaffenburg until the end of the Cold War.

And since it was probably an item looted during the war, Young couldn’t think of selling it like an antique.

Instead, he negotiated a loan of the bust to the San Antonio Museum of Art before his eventual return to Bavaria.

But the negotiations took several years, and during that time Young kept the bust in the room from your house.

“It looked very good. And she was there watching us for over three years,” she states.

The bust exhibited in the Pompejanum in Aschaffenburg, Germany, in 1931
The bust exhibited in the Pompejanum in Aschaffenburg, Germany, in 1931

Delivering the bust to the San Antonio Museum of Art was a bittersweet moment, Young admits, because he knew he would probably never find anything like it again.

“Even if I found something more valuable and could sell it and make that profit, I’d probably the bust would still be the best (which I have found)”, he adds.

Last weekend, Young went to see the bust at the museum: “It was very nice to see him there, in his element, where he should be.”

The artifact is currently on display in San Antonio, Texas, and will be returned to Pompejanum in May 2023.

By Chloe Kim, BBC News, Washington

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