Taking a trip to Goodwill is a great way to find unique secondhand clothing and household items, and sometimes, a quick shopping adventure can lead to a seriously amazing find.
Just ask Laura Young, an antiques seller on Ebay who was browsing a Goodwill in Austin, Texas, when something caught her eye. Sitting on the floor with the price tag of $34.99 was a 52-pound marble bust. As Young later learned, however, this wasn’t just any bust. It was an actual Roman bust from either late 1st century B.C. or early 1st century A.D.
According to the New York Times, the bust had once been part of a Bavarian king’s art collection in Germany until it was looted during World War II. How it ended up at a Texas Goodwill store is a mystery, but one scenario is that it was taken by an American solider when the Bavarian king’s villa was bombed.
Young began contacting auction houses and experts about the bust, with Sotheby eventually confirming it was from ancient Roman times, estimated to be about 2,000 years old. Because the bust was never sold and was likely taken, Young is not the rightful owner and cannot keep the statue. So, after displaying the bust in her home for nearly four years, it is now on display at The San Antonio Museum of Art.
“Immediately, I was like, ‘OK, I cannot keep him and I also cannot sell him,'” Young told The New York Times. “It was extremely bittersweet, to say the least. But I only have control over what I can control, and art theft, looting during a war, is a war crime. I can’t be a party to it.”
The museum posted photos of the bust on Facebook (including one of the bust safely seat-belted in a car during its journey to the museum):
On its website, the museum says the bust was once part of a full-scale model of a house from Pompeii, called the Pompejanum, located in Aschaffenburg, Germany. Through an agreement with the Bavarian Administration of State-Owned Palaces, Gardens and Lakes, it will remain on display at the museum until it is returned to Germany in 2023.
While this may be the oldest known Goodwill find, plenty of people have discovered interesting treasures at secondhand and thrift stores, including a man who found his own painting.
Denver resident Jacob Hansen sold the painting when he was 14 years old, only to find it at a Goodwill store just a few blocks from his home, 21 years later. He told local television station 9news that he plans on selling the painting a second time, this time for charity.
Have you found anything unique at Goodwill?