Thrift shop frequenters often find incredible deals when they go shopping. But this thrifter may have gotten the best deal yet — her $35 Goodwill find turned out to be an ancient Roman statue!
Curious Goodwill Find For $35
Created around 2,000 years ago, this marble bust from ancient Rome was just a lucky Goodwill find. It wasn’t the first time Laura Young, a vintage art collector from Austin, Texas, saw something valuable at a thrift shop, but it was definitely a surprising Goodwill find. The piece was left out on the floor under a table at Goodwill. But Young instantly realized how old and worn the sculpture looked and purchased it. After buying the bust, Young took a lot of funny pictures with it to post on social media. One included the sculpture being strapped to the seat of her car, the Goodwill price sticker still on its face.
In 2018, she started on a journey to find where the ancient bust came from. Over the last few years, she met up with a vast list of historians, from university professors to auction houses. At some point, Sotheby’s consultant Jörg Deterling took a closer look at the statue and sent it to the Bavarian Administration of State-Owned Palaces, Gardens, and Lakes for identification, and it became clear what it truly was. It turned out that the sculpture came from the collection of King Ludwig I of Bavaria.
The Long Journey To Find Truth
Now, the work of art is on display at the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) through May 2023. After that, the “Portrait of a Man” will go back to Germany in 2023, where it originally resided before World War II. “It had once stood in the town of Aschaffenburg, Germany, in a full-scale model of a house from Pompeii, called the Pompejanum, built [by] Ludwig I of Bavaria,” the museum says on its website. It was reported missing after Allied bombers damaged the Pompejanum during the Aschaffenburg bombing in 1945. It's assumed that a soldier must have picked it up as a memento and that it was passed down from generation to generation until some unknowing recipient decided to donate it, not knowing what it was. But it isn't certain how it made it's journey from Ancient Rome to a modern-day Texas thrift store where Young would find it.
“He looked great in the house while I had him,” Young explained with a smile. However, she was excited to see her Goodwill find on display. “My husband and I were on a road trip when I got an email confirming the head was indeed ancient Roman. Soon after that, Sotheby’s got in touch,” she said. “There were a few months of intense excitement after that, but it was bittersweet since I knew I couldn’t keep or sell the [bust]. Either way, I’m glad I got to be a small part of [its] long and complicated history.”