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Texas Woman Finds Roman Bust in Local Goodwill Store, It Will Be Returned to Germany

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A Texas woman purchased a sculpture at her local Goodwill and found out it was actually a missing 2,000-year-old Roman artifact.

In 2018, Laura Young, an art collector and vintage store owner, went into Goodwill to search for items that she could resell. She found the sculpture which she ended up buying for $34.99, according to The Art Newspaper.

The sculpture was actually “a rare and extremely valuable carved bust, believed to depict ancient Roman commander Drusus Germanicus.” Research done by a Sotheby’s expert determined that the artifact dated back to the first century “and was last known to be part of a museum collection in a Bavarian city in Germany,” according to The Art Newspaper.

“I’ve found a lot of interesting things at Goodwill in the past,” Laura Young said, according to the publication, like a Chinese painting that she had bought there and later sold for $63,000.

She mentioned that the bust was “on the floor, under a table” and “it looked pretty dirty, pretty old.” She purchased it hoping that someone might buy it from her and asked one of the employees at the store to carry it to her car. She then secured it with a seat belt.

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Now four years after her discovery, Laura Young has decided to return the bust back to Germany after contacting Leila Amineddoleh, a New York City attorney who specializes in art law, after a Sotheby’s expert told her she could not sell or keep the artifact.

“US law doesn’t recognize the transfer of title when theft is involved, I advised Laura not to sell it, either publicly or privately, that is, on the black market. She risked expensive legal battles or criminal penalties if she tried,” Leila Amineddoleh explained.

After Amineddoleh contacted the Bavarian authorities about the bust in 2018 about covering costs to send the sculpture back to Germany, they finally reached an agreement by the end of 2021 and the Bavarian government signed the final documents just last week.

Before the bust is shipped back to Germany, it will be on view at the San Antonio Museum of Art over the next year.

“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. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the San Antonio Museum of Art for their support in returning the ancient portrait,” said Bernd Schreiber, president of the Bavarian Administration of State-Owned Palaces, Gardens, and Lakes, per the Museum.

According to The Art Newspaper, Young will be honored with a plaque mentioning her name when the bust is reinstalled.

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