Charity shop find in Texas turns out to be ancient Roman bust

Shopper purchased priceless Bavarian artefact missing from Germany since the Second World War

A marble bust that a Texas woman bought for about $35 from a Goodwill store is on temporary display at a San Antonio museum after experts determined it was a centuries-old sculpture missing from Germany since the Second World War.

The bust, which art collector Laura Young found at Goodwill in 2018, once belonged in the collection of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, said the San Antonio Museum of Art, which is displaying the piece until it can be returned to Germany next year.

“He looked Roman. He looked old,” Ms Young told The San Antonio Express-News. “In the sunlight, it looked like something that could be very, very special.”

The ancient Roman bust dates to the first century BC or first century AD.

It was last seen in Aschaffenburg, Germany, and experts believe a returning soldier took the sculpture and brought it to the US, the museum said.

A Sotheby’s consultant identified the work and it was then further authenticated, the museum said.

“We are very pleased that a piece of Bavarian history that we thought was lost has reappeared and will soon be able to return to its rightful location,” said Bernd Schreiber, president of the Bavarian Administration of State-Owned Palaces, Gardens and Lakes.

Ms Young said there were a few months of “intense excitement” after learning the history behind the piece, which she found on the floor beneath a table at a Goodwill in Austin.

“But it was bittersweet since I knew I couldn’t keep or sell the [bust],” she said. “Either way, I’m glad I got to be a small part of [its] long and complicated history — and he looked great in the house while I had him.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Updated: May 06, 2022, 7:41 PM